Mutation of all runx (AML1/Core) sites in the enhancer of T-lymphomagenic SL3-3 murine leukemia virus unmasks a significant potential for myeloid leukemia induction and favors enhancer evolution toward induction of other disease patterns.
SL3-3 murine leukemia virus is a potent inducer of T-lymphomas in mice. Using inbred NMRI mice, it was previously reported that a mutant of SL3-3 with all enhancer Runx (AML1/core) sites disrupted by 3-bp mutations (SL3-3dm) induces predominantly non-T-cell tumors with severely extended latency (S. Ethelberg, J. Lovmand, J. Schmidt, A. Luz, and F. S. Pedersen, J. Virol. 71:7273-7280, 1997). By use of three-color flow cytometry and molecular and histopathological analyses, we have now performed a detailed phenotypic characterization of SL3-3- and SL3-3dm-induced tumors in this mouse strain. All wild-type induced tumors had clonal T-cell receptor beta rearrangements, and the vast majority were CD3(+) CD4(+) CD8(-) T-lymphomas. Such a consistent phenotypic pattern is unusual for murine leukemia virus-induced T-lymphomas. The mutant virus induced malignancies of four distinct hematopoietic lineages: myeloid, T lymphoid, B lymphoid, and erythroid. The most common disease was myeloid leukemia with maturation. Thus, mutation of all Runx motifs in the enhancer of SL3-3 severely impedes viral T-lymphomagenicity and thereby discloses a considerable and formerly unappreciated potential of this virus for myeloid leukemia induction. Proviral enhancers with complex structural alterations (deletions, insertions, and/or duplications) were found in most SL3-3dm-induced T-lymphoid tumors and immature myeloid leukemias but not in any cases of myeloid leukemia with maturation, mature B-lymphoma, or erythroleukemia. Altogether, our results indicate that the SL3-3dm enhancer in itself promotes induction of myeloid leukemia with maturation but that structural changes may arise in vivo and redirect viral disease specificity to induction of T-lymphoid or immature myeloid leukemias, which typically develop with moderately shorter latencies.