Foamy Virus Transactivation and Gene Expression
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An overview of the pattern and mechanisms of spuma or foamy virus (FV) gene expression is presented. FVs are complex retroviruses with respect to their genetic outfit and the elements used to control and regulate expression of the viral genome. The increased insight into transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms has revealed that the FVs are distinct, unconventional retroviruses clearly apart from the orthoretroviruses. Although less characterized than the orthoretroviruses, FVs have several unique features that are important for construction and assembly of FV-based vectors for targeted gene delivery and vaccination purposes. Some of these distinguishing features are directly related to the FV-specific mechanisms of gene expression and include (1) the presence of an internal, functional active second transcription unit for expression of the nonstructural genes, (2) the utilization of a subgenomic, spliced transcript for Pol protein expression, and (3) distinct but not yet understood mechanisms for the nuclear exit of defined transcripts and thus an additional level of posttranscriptional control of gene expression. Finally, the interactions of the viral transactivator not only with both viral promoters but also with regulatory elements controlling the expression of defined cellular genes are an important issue with respect to vector development and the apparent apathogenicity of FVs in their natural hosts.
KeywordsHuman Immunodeficiency Virus Type Long Terminal Repeat Foamy Virus Cellular Gene Expression Simian Foamy Virus
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