Females of the RF and SJL inbred mouse strains transmit to their progeny of both sexes a nonmendelian maternal resistance factor (MRF) able to suppress the expression of endogenous ecotropic murine leukemia virus (E-MuLV). This MRF is demonstrable in crosses with AKR mice by comparing E-MuLV expression in the spleens and thymuses of reciprocal F1 generations. DBA/2 and ST/b mice are MRF negative by these criteria. Neonatal inoculation of E-MuLV-containing spleen extracts gives rise to persistent expression of infectious virus in mice of the MRF- but not the MRF+ strains. However, inoculation of the virus in 30-d-old females of the MRF- strains no longer leads to a state of persistent infection; instead, these females become MRF+ and transmit protection against E-MuLV expression to their progeny by AKR and RF males. The MRF appears to be transmitted to the progeny mainly through the milk, since foster-nursing AKR neonates on RF (but not DBA/2) mothers greatly reduces E-MuLV expression in the progeny. These RF-fostered AKR mice also show a reduced and delayed lymphoma incidence, a finding consistent with the idea that maternally transmitted resistance to E-MuLV expression is the basis for the classic maternal resistance to lymphomagenesis seen in the progeny of RF mothers.

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