Recent studies have indicated that both the replication-defective spleen focus-forming virus (SFFV) in the Friend virus complex and the helper-independent mink cell focus-inducing (MCF) viruses derived from AKR-murine leukemia virus (MuLV) are env gene recombinants between ecotropic virus and xenotropic virus. In an attempt to isolate additional env gene recombinants between Friend murine leukemia virus (F-MuLV) and xenotropic virus, we have inoculated cloned ecotropic F-MuLV into newborn NIH Swiss mice and analyzed MuLV released from preleukemic and leukemic spleens of infected mice. Two helper-independent MCF strains of F-MuLV have been isolated. Like the previously described AKR-MCF viruses, the Friend MCF viruses are env gene recombinants between an ecotropic virus (F-MuLV) and a mouse xenotropic virus, as shown by host range, interference pattern, and tryptic peptide analysis of the gp70s of these MuLV. Furthermore, RNA from the Friend MCF viruses hybridizes completely to cDNAsffv, a nucleic acid probe which detects that portion of SFFV which was not derived from P-MuLV. The ability to isolate replicating MCF viruses derived from F-MuLV FURTHER strengthens the parallels between the Friend erythroleukemia system and the AKR thymic leukemia system. Finally, the potential relationship of helper-independent env gene recombinants between F-MuLV and xenotropic virus to be highly leukemogenic SFFV is discussed.

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