We are investigating the feasibility of using the positive-strand RNA virus Sindbis virus and its defective interfering (DI) particles as vectors for introducing foreign genes into cells. In previous work we showed by deletion mapping of a cloned cDNA derived from one of the DI RNAs that only nucleotides at the 3' and 5' termini of the RNA are essential for the DI RNA to be amplified after it is transfected into cells in the presence of helper virus. As a first step in developing a vector we replaced 75% of the internal nucleotides of this DI cDNA with foreign sequences including the bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT; EC 220.127.116.11) gene. DI RNAs transcribed from this cDNA were replicated and packaged by helper Sindbis virus and became a major viral RNA species in infected cells by the third passage after transfection. They were also translated to produce enzymatically active CAT. CAT activity was measured at passage 3 but could also be detected in transfected cells. DI RNAs containing the CAT gene were translated in vivo and in vitro to produce two polypeptides immunoprecipitable by anti-CAT antibodies. One polypeptide was identical in size to the authentic CAT polypeptide; the other was the size expected for a protein initiated at an upstream, viral-specific AUG in frame with the CAT AUG. These studies establish that DI genomes of Sindbis virus can tolerate the insertion and direct the expression of at least one foreign gene.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jul 1987|