The radioimmune precipitation assay using 3H-labeled AKR leukemia virus was applied to the detection and quantitation of natural serum antibodies directed against endogenous murine leukemia virus (MuLV) envelope antigens B6C3F1 and BALB/c mice, which have low natural incidences of leukemia and lymphoma, and AKR mice, which have a high incidence, were used in this study. Sera from mice of various age groups were assayed. A marked difference in age-associated levels of the autogenous immune response to endogenous murine leukemia virus was detected, and the quantitative differences among these strains were inversely related to the incidence of lymphoma. The radioimmune precipitation test as applied was 500 times more sensitive than virus neutralization. That the reactions we have observed are specific is suggested by several lines of evidence, including the nonreactivity of normal hamster and absorbed rat serum, the positive reaction of absorbed rat anti-AKR serum, the inhibition of precipitation of labeled virus by purified unlabeled virus, and isopycnic gradient analysis of the reactive products.

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