The common virus integration site (VIS) Evi11 was recently identified within the gene encoding the hematopoietic G-protein-coupled peripheral cannabinoid receptor Cnr2 (also referred to as Cb2). Here we show that Cnr2 is a frequent target (12%) for insertion of Cas-Br-M murine leukemia virus (MuLV) in primary tumors in NIH/Swiss mice. Multiple provirus insertions in Evi11 were cloned and shown to be located within the 3' untranslated region of the candidate proto-oncogene Cnr2. These results suggest that proviral insertion in the Cnr2 gene is an important step in Cas-Br-M MuLV-induced leukemogenesis in NIH/Swiss mice. To isolate Evi11/Cnr2 collaborating proto-oncogenes, we searched for novel common VISs in the Cas-Br-M MuLV-induced primary tumors and identified a novel frequent common VIS, Evi12 (14%). Interestingly, 54% of the Evi11/Cnr2-rearranged primary tumors contained insertions in Evi12 as well, which suggests cooperative action of the target genes in these two common VISs in leukemogenesis. By interspecific backcross analysis it was shown that Evi12 resides on mouse chromosome 10 in a region that shares homology with human chromosomes 12q and 19p. Sequence analysis demonstrated that Evi12 is located upstream of the gene encoding the molecular chaperone Tra1/Grp94, which was previously mapped to mouse chromosome 10 and human chromosome 12q22-24. Thus, Tra1/Grp94 is a candidate target gene for retroviral activation or inactivation in Evi12. However, Northern and Western blot analyses did not provide evidence that proviral insertion had altered the expression of Tra1/Grp94. Additional studies are required to determine whether Tra1/Grp94 or another candidate proto-oncogene in Evi12 is involved in leukemogenesis.
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