A biochemical and immunological comparison of the Jaagsiekte and two related retroviruses.
Jaagsiekte is a contagious cancer affecting the lungs of sheep. Although the etiological agent is Jaagsiekte retrovirus (JSRV), two other retroviruses viz South African maedi visna virus ( SA - OMVV) and a novel Bovine retrovirus (BRV) have been associated with or implicated in the jaagsiekte disease complex. JSRV was sufficiently purified from lung rinse material using a Freon extraction, Percoll density gradient centrifugation and chranatography on a Sephacryl column, its polypeptide composition was studied by gel electrophoresis and its morphology observed electron microscopically. Monoclonal antibodies were made against purified preparations of the virus. Two hybridomas were isolated that produced MAbs which appear to be tumour cell specific. A third hybridoma, called 4A1O, produces antibodies considered to be viral specific. These MAbs have been used in the development of JS specific immunoassays. A cross reaction between JSRV and a polyclonal serum against Mason Pfizer monkey virus (MPMV) was confirmed and used in a Western blot technique to identify, monitor and differentiate JSRV from other viruses. During the study of JSRV it became apparent that another retrovirus was often present in JS infected lungs. This virus, referred to as SA - OM1V I, is a novel South African isolate of maedi visna virus (MVV). As SA - OM1V I has physicochemical characteristics similar to JSRV, it was often found in purified JSRV preparations. Being a retrovirus it is also detected by the reverse transcriptase assay which was the only method used to assay and monitor for JSRV during the early stages of our work. Using a Westen blot technique and sera against MVV and MPMV it was possible to simultaneously detect and differentiate JSRV from SA - OMVV I. A method was also developed whereby the two viruses could be separated from each other during purification. The information gained and techniques developed whilst studyiing JSRV were also used to isolate and characterize BRV. This novel virus originated from bovine cells that had been co-cultivated with white blood cells from an ox suffering from malignant catarrhal fever. Three out of four sheep inoculated with BRV developed JS. It therefore had to be· ascertained whether this virus was related to JSRV or not. The comparative study revealed that BRV was biochemically and morphologically quite different fran JSRV. Interestingly, it was shown that serum against MPMV cross reacted with a 32 kd protein of BRV indicating a serological relationship between JSRV, MPMV and BRV. The possible role of BRV in the etiology of jaagsiekte remains to be elucidated.