Bet is a foamy virus (FV) accessory protein not required for virus replication. The function of Bet is not understood. We report on the generation of cell lines stably expressing the HFV Bet protein. In Bet+ cells, HFV replication was reduced by approximately 3-4 orders of magnitude compared with control cells. The HFV Bet-expressing cells only partially resisted infection by the distantly related feline FV (FFV). Pseudotyping experiments, using murine retroviral vectors with an HFV envelope, revealed that the resistance was not due to downregulation of the unknown HFV receptor. In transfection experiments, using proviral reporter gene constructs and infectious proviruses, no significant differences were detected between Bet+ and control cells. In infection experiments, HFV vectors expressing an indicator gene under control of the HFV promoters showed no activity in Bet+ cells. The results are best compatible with the hypothesis that the main block to productive superinfection of Bet+ cells occurs at an early stage of replication between virus entry and provirus establishment. We suggest that inhibition of provirus integration by Bet protein may serve a distinct function in the unique foamy virus replication cycle.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.