Detection of ecotropic replication-competent retroviruses: Comparison of S+/L and marker rescue assays

Lilith Reeves, Lisa Duffy, Sue Koop, Joanne Fyffe, Kenneth Cornetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Guidelines for testing gene therapy products for ecotropic replication-competent retrovirus (Eco-RCR) have not been delineated as they have for amphotropic viruses. To evaluate biologic assays that can detect these viruses, we compared an S+/L- assay and a marker rescue assay designed specifically for Eco-RCR detection. Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MuLV) obtained from the American Type Culture Collection was used as the positive control. For marker rescue, NIH 3T3 cells were transduced with a retroviral vector expressing the neomycin phosphotransferase gene (3T3/Neo). Inoculation and passage of test material in 3T3/Neo cells for 3 weeks (amplification) and subsequent testing in the S+/L- assay or the marker rescue assay increased the level of sensitivity for virus detection greater than 10-fold compared with direct inoculation of D56 S+/L- cells. When serial dilutions of Mo-MuLV stock were evaluated, six of six cultures had detectable virus by the S+/L- and marker rescue assays at dilutions of 10-5 and 10-6. At the 10-7 dilution, five of six assays had detectable virus in both assays. The ability to detect virus-infected cells was also evaluated in a modification that substituted cells for supernatant. Fifteen 3T3/Neo cultures inoculated with 106 293 cells containing 100 or 10 Mo-MuLV/3T3 cells were all positive by marker rescue. For dilution with 1 virus-infected cell per 106 293 cells, 10 of 15 cultures were positive. At the 0.1-cell dilution only 2 of 15 cultures were positive. If we hope to detect one infected cell in a test article, the probability of detecting virus if the assay is performed in triplicate is 96.3%. In summary, after 3 weeks of amplification the S+/L- and marker rescue assays can detect virus with similar sensitivities. We prefer the marker rescue assay because of the more reliable growth features of NIH 3T3 cells compared with the D56 cell line. For laboratories analyzing clinical materials, this report may prove useful in establishing detection assays for Eco-RCR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1783-1790
Number of pages8
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number14
StatePublished - Sep 20 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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