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Evolution of feline leukemia virus variant genomes with insertions, deletions, and defective envelope genes in infected cats with tumors.

By J L Rohn, M L Linenberger, E A Hoover and J Overbaugh


In order to study retroviral variation, selection, and viral correlates of in vivo pathogenicity, we documented the evolution of feline leukemia virus (FeLV) variants in cats that died with thymic lymphoma after infection with molecularly cloned subgroup A FeLV. Using genomic DNA from cat necropsy samples, we employed PCR to amplify and clone the envelope gene, which is a major determinant of the specific pathogenicity of different FeLV variants. In the envelope gene, mutations encoded scattered amino acid changes that did not cluster into clearly definable variable regions; however, characterization of these terminal variant sequences revealed a predominance of G-to-A and A-to-G nucleotide substitutions. Additionally, some cats harbored variants with recombinant subgroup B-like envelope genes, while the major variant from one cat had a 12-bp insertion in a region previously characterized as an immunodeficiency-inducing determinant. Finally, proviruses from tumor DNA frequently possessed envelope genes predicted to encode a protein truncated in the N-terminal half because of either premature termination codons or deletions ranging from 29 to 1,666 bp. In contrast, all envelope genes cloned from the bone marrow of one cat were predicted to encode full-length envelope product, and only a minority of proviral clones from a cat that did not develop a tumor had defective envelope genes. Thus, in the cat, viruses evolved from subgroup A FeLV that had point mutations, insertions, deletions, or recombinant envelope genes. Furthermore, defective variants were particularly prominent in T-cell tumors

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1994
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:236723
Provided by: PubMed Central
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