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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Foamy virus reverse transcriptase is expressed independently from the Gag protein.

In the foamy virus (FV) subgroup of retroviruses the pol genes are located in the +1 reading frame relative to the gag genes and possess potential ATG initiation codons in their 5' regions. This genome organization suggests either a + 1 ribosomal frameshift to generate a Gag-Pol fusion protein, similar to all other retroviruses studied so far, or new initiation of Pol translation, as used by pararetroviruses, to express the Pol protein. By using a genetic approach we have ruled out the former possibility and provide evidence for the latter. Two down-mutations (M53 and M54) of the pol ATG codon were found to abolish replication and Pol protein expression of the human FV isolate. The introduction of a new ATG in mutation M55, 3' to the down-mutated ATG of mutation M53, restored replication competence, indicating that the pol ATG functions as a translational initiation codon. Two nonsense mutants (M56 and M57), which functionally separated gag and pol with respect to potential frame-shifting sites, were also replication-competent, providing further genetic evidence that FVs express the Pol protein independently from Gag. Our results show that during a particular step of the replication cycle, FVs differ fundamentally from all other retroviruses.[1]


  1. Foamy virus reverse transcriptase is expressed independently from the Gag protein. Enssle, J., Jordan, I., Mauer, B., Rethwilm, A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1996) [Pubmed]
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