In Vitro Characterization of a Koala Retrovirus
Nidia M. Oliveira, Karen B. Farrell, and Maribeth V. Eiden*
Section on Molecular Virology, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
Recently, a new endogenous koala gammaretrovirus, designated KoRV, was isolated from koalas. The KoRV genome shares 78% nucleotide identity with another gammaretrovirus, gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV). KoRV is endogenous in koalas, while GALV is exogenous, suggesting that KoRV predates GALV and that gibbons and koalas acquired the virus at different times from a common source. We have determined that subtle adaptive differences between the KoRV and GALV envelope genes account for differences in their receptor utilization properties. KoRV represents a unique example of a gammaretrovirus whose envelope has evolved to allow for its expanded host range and zoonotic potential.