Recombination in feline immunodeficiency virus from feral and companion domestic cats
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) was first isolated from cats with immunodeficiency syndrome. Recently, neurological abnormalities and brain lesions were shown in cats infected with FIV. To investigate the FIV genome associated with central nervous system (CNS) lesions, proviral DNA sequences from the V3–V6 region of the FIVenv gene were directly amplified from uncultured necropsy tissues of a 2-year-old naturally FIV-infected cat with marked neurological symptoms and encephalitis. By in situ hybridization, FIV RNA was detected mainly in the astrocytes. Fifteen clones isolated from cerebrum, bone marrow and lymph node samples showed only a small number of mutations or deletions in this region. A representative clone, JN-BR1, was distantly related to the previous Japanese strain (TM2) belonging to the subtype B. However, it was relatively close to the Petaluma strain which is known to infect feline brain-derived culture cells and induce brain lesions in inoculated cats. By phylogenetic analysis, the JN-BR1 strain was placed in subtype A that included Petaluma strain and several other American and European strains. The JN-BR1 strain derived from brain with encephalitis in this study and the Petaluma strain may share a common genetic structure that is related to their neuropathogenicity.