The infection of the feline T-lymphocyte cell line FeT-J with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) Petaluma strain led to the establishment of nonvirus-producing cells. One clone (C15) obtained by limiting dilution was found to express FIV in response to chemical inducers of retroviruses. The chemical treatment of C15 cells led to not only FIV protein synthesis but also an augmentation of viral production. Examination of the C15 cell derivatives obtained by recloning revealed that 10-40% of treated cells constitutively expressed FIV antigens, whereas 100% with expressed FIV antigen in response to the inducer. Chemical induction resulted in more than a 100-fold increase in infectious viral production. The results suggest that a majority of FeT-J cells that are infected with FIV exist in a non-productive state. Establishing a cell line that can be non-productively infected by FIV may help determine the mechanisms of FIV latency.
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