Recombination in feline immunodeficiency virus from feral and companion domestic cats.
BACKGROUND:Recombination is a relatively common phenomenon in retroviruses. We investigated recombination in Feline Immunodeficiency Virus from naturally-infected New Zealand domestic cats (Felis catus) by sequencing regions of the gag, pol and env genes. RESULTS:The occurrence of intragenic recombination was highest in env, with evidence of recombination in 6.4% (n = 156) of all cats. A further recombinant was identified in each of the gag (n = 48) and pol (n = 91) genes. Comparisons of phylogenetic trees across genes identified cases of incongruence, indicating intergenic recombination. Three (7.7%, n = 39) of these incongruencies were found to be significantly different using the Shimodaira-Hasegawa test.Surprisingly, our phylogenies from the gag and pol genes showed that no New Zealand sequences group with reference subtype C sequences within intrasubtype pairwise distances. Indeed, we find one and two distinct unknown subtype groups in gag and pol, respectively. These observations cause us to speculate that these New Zealand FIV strains have undergone several recombination events between subtype A parent strains and undefined unknown subtype strains, similar to the evolutionary history hypothesised for HIV-1 "subtype E".Endpoint dilution sequencing was used to confirm the consensus sequences of the putative recombinants and unknown subtype groups, providing evidence for the authenticity of these sequences. Endpoint dilution sequencing also resulted in the identification of a dual infection event in the env gene. In addition, an intrahost recombination event between variants of the same subtype in the pol gene was established. This is the first known example of naturally-occurring recombination in a cat with infection of the parent strains. CONCLUSION:Evidence of intragenic recombination in the gag, pol and env regions, and complex intergenic recombination, of FIV from naturally-infected domestic cats in New Zealand was found. Strains of unknown subtype were identified in all three gene regions. These results have implications for the use of the current FIV vaccine in New Zealand.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)