Genetic Characterization of Feline Leukemia Virus from Florida Panthers

National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland, USA.
Emerging infectious diseases (Impact Factor: 6.75). 03/2008; 14(2):252-9. DOI: 10.3201/eid1402.070981
Source: PubMed


From 2002 through 2005, an outbreak of feline leukemia virus (FeLV) occurred in Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). Clinical signs included lymphadenopathy, anemia, septicemia, and weight loss; 5 panthers died. Not associated with FeLV outcome were the genetic heritage of the panthers (pure Florida vs. Texas/Florida crosses) and co-infection with feline immunodeficiency virus. Genetic analysis of panther FeLV, designated FeLV-Pco, determined that the outbreak likely came from 1 cross-species transmission from a domestic cat. The FeLV-Pco virus was closely related to the domestic cat exogenous FeLV-A subgroup in lacking recombinant segments derived from endogenous FeLV. FeLV-Pco sequences were most similar to the well-characterized FeLV-945 strain, which is highly virulent and strongly pathogenic in domestic cats because of unique long terminal repeat and envelope sequences. These unique features may also account for the severity of the outbreak after cross-species transmission to the panther.

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    • "For instance, it has been shown that FeLV-B arose through recombination in the env region between FeLV-A and endogenous FeLV sequences (enFeLV) present in the feline genome [9], [26], and FeLV-C apparently also arose through deletion and mutation of the FeLV-A env gene [2], [27]. Since the initial discovery of FeLV in domestic cats in 1964 [28]–[29], the virus has also been isolated from wild cats such as the Florida panther [30] and the Iberian lynx [31]. Preventing FeLV infection in both domestic and wild cats is of considerable interest. "
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    ABSTRACT: Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) belongs to the genus Gammaretrovirus, and causes a variety of neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases in cats. Alteration of viral env sequences is thought to be associated with disease specificity, but the way in which genetic diversity of FeLV contributes to the generation of such variants in nature is poorly understood. We isolated FeLV env genes from naturally infected cats in Japan and analyzed the evolutionary dynamics of these genes. Phylogenetic reconstructions separated our FeLV samples into three distinct genetic clusters, termed Genotypes I, II, and III. Genotype I is a major genetic cluster and can be further classified into Clades 1-7 in Japan. Genotypes were correlated with geographical distribution; Genotypes I and II were distributed within Japan, whilst FeLV samples from outside Japan belonged to Genotype III. These results may be due to geographical isolation of FeLVs in Japan. The observed structural diversity of the FeLV env gene appears to be caused primarily by mutation, deletion, insertion and recombination, and these variants may be generated de novo in individual cats. FeLV interference assay revealed that FeLV genotypes did not correlate with known FeLV receptor subgroups. We have identified the genotypes which we consider to be reliable for evaluating phylogenetic relationships of FeLV, which embrace the high structural diversity observed in our sample. Overall, these findings extend our understanding of Gammaretrovirus evolutionary patterns in the field, and may provide a useful basis for assessing the emergence of novel strains and understanding the molecular mechanisms of FeLV transmission in cats.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Consumption of free-roaming cats by cougar or panther (Felis concolor) poses a risk of FeLV transmission , and suspected cases of domestic cat-transmitted FeLV in wild felids have been reported in California and Florida (Jessup et al., 1993; Cunningham et al., 2008). Genetic analysis of the FeLV virus associated with mortality in 5 Florida panthers indicated that the virus envelope sequence was nearly identical indicating the source or the infection was likely from a single domestic cat (Brown et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Free-roaming cat populations have been identified as a significant public health threat and are a source for several zoonotic diseases including rabies, toxoplasmosis, cutaneous larval migrans because of various nematode parasites, plague, tularemia and murine typhus. Several of these diseases are reported to cause mortality in humans and can cause other important health issues including abortion, blindness, pruritic skin rashes and other various symptoms. A recent case of rabies in a young girl from California that likely was transmitted by a free-roaming cat underscores that free-roaming cats can be a source of zoonotic diseases. Increased attention has been placed on trap-neuter-release (TNR) programmes as a viable tool to manage cat populations. However, some studies have shown that TNR leads to increased immigration of unneutered cats into neutered populations as well as increased kitten survival in neutered groups. These compensatory mechanisms in neutered groups leading to increased kitten survival and immigration would confound rabies vaccination campaigns and produce naïve populations of cats that can serve as source of zoonotic disease agents owing to lack of immunity. This manuscript is a review of the various diseases of free-roaming cats and the public health implications associated with the cat populations.
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    • "Wild felids isolated by habitat fragmentation exhibit “home-range pile-up” [10] and the potential for increased contact rates with conspecifics. Contact between domestic cats and non-domestic felids can lead to cross-species FIV transmission events, such as has apparently occurred with feline leukemia virus transmission between domestic cats and pumas in Florida [54]. Additionally, recent spatial analyses have suggested that landscape features, and in particular roads, could impact FIV infections in pumas [55]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic landscape change can lead to increased opportunities for pathogen transmission between domestic and non-domestic animals. Pumas, bobcats, and domestic cats are sympatric in many areas of North America and share many of the same pathogens, some of which are zoonotic. We analyzed bobcat, puma, and feral domestic cat samples collected from targeted geographic areas. We examined exposure to three pathogens that are taxonomically diverse (bacterial, protozoal, viral), that incorporate multiple transmission strategies (vector-borne, environmental exposure/ingestion, and direct contact), and that vary in species-specificity. Bartonella spp., Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and Toxoplasma gondii IgG were detected in all three species with mean respective prevalence as follows: puma 16%, 41% and 75%; bobcat 31%, 22% and 43%; domestic cat 45%, 10% and 1%. Bartonella spp. were highly prevalent among domestic cats in Southern California compared to other cohort groups. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus exposure was primarily associated with species and age, and was not influenced by geographic location. Pumas were more likely to be infected with FIV than bobcats, with domestic cats having the lowest infection rate. Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence was high in both pumas and bobcats across all sites; in contrast, few domestic cats were seropositive, despite the fact that feral, free ranging domestic cats were targeted in this study. Interestingly, a directly transmitted species-specific disease (FIV) was not associated with geographic location, while exposure to indirectly transmitted diseases--vector-borne for Bartonella spp. and ingestion of oocysts via infected prey or environmental exposure for T. gondii--varied significantly by site. Pathogens transmitted by direct contact may be more dependent upon individual behaviors and intra-specific encounters. Future studies will integrate host density, as well as landscape features, to better understand the mechanisms driving disease exposure and to predict zones of cross-species pathogen transmission among wild and domestic felids.
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