A new sensitive indicator cell line reveals cross-transactivation of the viral LTR by gorilla and chimpanzee simian foamy viruses.
The majority of currently identified simian foamy virus (SFV)-infected Cameroonian and Gabonese individuals harbor SFV from the gorilla lineage. We constructed an indicator cell line for the quantification of gorilla SFVs, in which the U3 sequence of a gorilla SFV directs the expression of the β-galactosidase protein. The gorilla foamy virus activated β-galactosidase (GFAB) cells efficiently quantified two zoonotic primary gorilla isolates and SFVs from three chimpanzee subspecies. Primary gorilla SFVs replicated more slowly and at lower levels than primary chimpanzee SFVs. Analysis of previously described motifs of Tas proteins and U3 LTRs involved in viral gene synthesis revealed conservation of such motifs in Tas proteins from gorilla and chimpanzee SFVs, but little sequence homology in the LTR regions previously shown to interact with viral and cellular factors.