Retrovirology. 2023 Jun 2;20(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s12977-023-00623-w.
Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) is the etiological agent of enzootic bovine leukosis, a disease characterized by the neoplastic proliferation of B cells in cattle. While most European countries have introduced efficient eradication programs, BLV is still present worldwide and no treatment is available. A major feature of BLV infection is the viral latency, which enables the escape from the host immune system, the maintenance of a persistent infection and ultimately the tumoral development. BLV latency is a multifactorial phenomenon resulting in the silencing of viral genes due to genetic and epigenetic repressions of the viral promoter located in the 5′ Long Terminal Repeat (5’LTR). However, viral miRNAs and antisense transcripts are expressed from two different proviral regions, respectively the miRNA cluster and the 3’LTR. These latter transcripts are expressed despite the viral latency affecting the 5’LTR and are increasingly considered to take part in tumoral development. In the present review, we provide a summary of the experimental evidence that has enabled to characterize the molecular mechanisms regulating each of the three BLV transcriptional units, either through cis-regulatory elements or through epigenetic modifications. Additionally, we describe the recently identified BLV miRNAs and antisense transcripts and their implications in BLV-induced tumorigenesis. Finally, we discuss the relevance of BLV as an experimental model for the closely related human T-lymphotropic virus HTLV-1.