The role of retroviral dUTPases in replication and virulence. Academic Article uri icon


  • Several retroviruses, including equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV), visna virus, caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) encode dUTPase. The role of this enzyme in the replication of these viruses has been scrutinized, with particular emphasis on potential roles for dUTPase in virulence and viral mutation rate. Overall, the results of these studies have indicated a central role for dUTPase in facilitating productive viral replication in non-dividing cells. The requirement for dUTPase in EIAV, which replicates exclusively in macrophages, may be the most stringent. Studies of dUTPase mutants of virulent EIAV clones suggest that the enzyme is a major determinant of virulence. In contrast, FIV readily replicates in dividing cell populations such as CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and B cells as well as in non-dividing macrophages. Thus, the virus burden and disease sequelae are lowered in cats infected with a dUTPase-minus FIV relative to cats infected with wild type FIV, but not totally abrogated. Growth in macrophages is attenuated with the DU-minus FIV with evidence of a 5 to 8-fold increase in G-->A transition mutations in viral integrants present in macrophages. These findings are consistent with an increase in uracil misincorporation in the absence of dUTPase, resulting in transition mutations that cripple the virus. Effects on virus replication and disease production have also been noted for dUTPase-deleted CEAV and visna virus. While HIV and SIV do not encode dUTPase some reports suggest that other viral and host cell factors may substitute for its activity. Betaretroviruses also encode dUTPase and while several of these cause significant disease, the role of dUTPase in their replication and pathogenesis is currently unknown.

published proceedings

  • Curr Protein Pept Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Payne, S. L., & Elder, J. H.

citation count

  • 49

complete list of authors

  • Payne, SL||Elder, JH

publication date

  • December 2001