Alleles at the Fv1 gene of inbred mice confer resistance to infection and spread of vertically or horizontally transmitted murine leukemia viruses (MuLV). The nucleotide sequence of Fv1 bears similarity to the gag of a human endogenous retrovirus, HERV-L, but is more closely related to the gag-coding sequence of a newly described class of HERV-L-related mouse endogenous retroviruses designated MuERV-L. Both observations suggest an origin of Fv1 from endogenous gag sequences. The molecular definition of Fv1 provided an opportunity to determine the phylogeny of the gene among wild mice and its relation to MuERV-L. PCR primers, chosen to include most of the coding region of Fv1 for both the n and b alleles, were used to amplify sequences from animals of the genus Mus, which were then sequenced. Closely related products were obtained from almost all animals examined that evolved after the separation from Rattus, in which the homologous gene was shown to be absent. A phylogenetic tree generated with Fv1 sequence data differs noticeably from that developed with sequence data from other genes. In addition, non-synonymous changes were found to be present twice as frequently as synonymous changes, a fact that departs from the standard behavior of a structural gene. These observations suggest that the Fv1 gene may have been subjected to possible horizontal transfers as well as to positive Darwinian selection.
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