Refrex-1, a soluble restriction factor against feline endogenous and exogenous retroviruses.
ABSTRACT: The host defense against viral infection is acquired during the coevolution or symbiosis of the host and pathogen. Several cellular factors that restrict retroviral infection have been identified in the hosts. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a gammaretrovirus that is classified into several receptor interference groups, including a novel FeLV-subgroup D (FeLV-D) that we recently identified. FeLV-D is generated by transduction of the env gene of feline endogenous gammaretrovirus of the domestic cat (ERV-DCs) into FeLV. Some ERV-DCs are replication competent viruses which are present and hereditary in cats. We report here the determination of new viral receptor interference groups and the discovery of a soluble antiretroviral factor, termed Refrex-1. Detailed analysis of FeLV-D strains and ERV-DCs showed two receptor interference groups that are distinct from other FeLV subgroups, and Refrex-1 specifically inhibited one of them. Refrex-1 is characterized as a truncated envelope protein of ERV-DC and includes the N-terminal region of surface unit, which is a putative receptor-binding domain, but lacks the transmembrane region. Refrex-1 is efficiently secreted from the cells and appears to cause receptor interference extracellularly. Two variants of Refrex-1 encoded by provirus loci, ERV-DC7 and DC16, are expressed in a broad range of feline tissues. The host retains Refrex-1 as an antiretroviral factor, which may potentially prevent reemergence of the ERVs and the emergence of novel ERV-related viruses in cats. Refrex-1 may have been acquired during endogenization of ERV-DCs and may play an important role in retroviral restriction and antiviral defense in cats.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancestral retroviral infections of germ cells. Retroviral endogenization is an adaptation process for the host genome, and ERVs are gradually attenuated or inactivated by mutation. However, some ERVs that have been "domesticated" by their hosts eventually gain physiological functions, such as placentation or viral resistance. We previously reported the discovery of Refrex-1, a soluble antiretroviral factor in domestic cats that specifically inhibits infection by feline leukemia virus subgroup D (FeLV-D), a chimeric virus of FeLV, and a feline ERV, ERV-DC. Refrex-1 is a truncated envelope protein (Env) encoded by both ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 proviral loci. Here, we reconstituted ancestral and functional Env from ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 envelope genes (env) by inducing reverse mutations. Unexpectedly, ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 full-length Env (ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl), reconstructed by removing stop codons, did not produce infectious viral particles. ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl were highly expressed in cells but were not cleaved into surface subunits (SU) and transmembrane subunits, nor were they incorporated into virions. G407R/N427I-A429T and Y431D substitutions within the SU C-terminal domain of ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl, respectively, caused these dysfunctions. The residues glycine 407 and tyrosine 431 are relatively conserved among infectious gammaretroviruses, and their substitution causes the same dysfunctions as the tested retroviruses. Our results reveal that specific mutations within the SU C-terminal domain suppressed Env cleavage and incorporation into virions and indicate that these mutations contributed to the domestication of Refrex-1 through multistep events that occurred in the postintegration period.Domestic cats are colonized with various exogenous retroviruses (exRVs), such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and their genomes contain numerous ERVs, some of which are replication-competent proviruses. The feline hosts, exRVs, and ERVs have complicated genetic interactions and provide an interesting field model for triangular relationships: recombination between FeLV and ERV-DC, which is a feline ERV, generated FeLV-D, a chimeric virus, and FeLV-D is restricted by Refrex-1, an antiretroviral factor corresponding to truncated Env of ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16. Here, we reconstructed ancestral, functional Env from ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 env by inducing reverse mutations to elucidate how Refrex-1 was generated from its ancestor. Our results reveal that they were repeatedly inactivated by mutations preventing Env maturation. Our results provide insights into how ERVs were "domesticated" by their hosts and identify the mutations that mediated these evolutions. Notably, experiments that restore inactivated ERVs might uncover previously unrecognized features or properties of retroviruses.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) of domestic cats (ERV-DCs) are one of the youngest feline ERV groups in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus); some members are replication competent (ERV-DC10, ERV-DC18, and ERV-DC14), produce the antiretroviral soluble factor Refrex-1 (ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16), or can generate recombinant feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Here, we investigated ERV-DC in European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) and detected four loci: ERV-DC6, ERV-DC7, ERV-DC14, and ERV-DC16. ERV-DC14 was detected at a high frequency in European wildcats; however, it was replication defective due to a single G ? A nucleotide substitution, resulting in an E148K substitution in the ERV-DC14 envelope (Env). This mutation results in a cleavage-defective Env that is not incorporated into viral particles. Introduction of the same mutation into feline and murine infectious gammaretroviruses resulted in a similar Env dysfunction. Interestingly, the same mutation was found in an FeLV isolate from naturally occurring thymic lymphoma and a mouse ERV, suggesting a common mechanism of virus inactivation. Refrex-1 was present in European wildcats; however, ERV-DC16, but not ERV-DC7, was unfixed in European wildcats. Thus, Refrex-1 has had an antiviral role throughout the evolution of the genus Felis, predating cat exposure to feline retroviruses. ERV-DC sequence diversity was present across wild and domestic cats but was locus dependent. In conclusion, ERVs have evolved species-specific phenotypes through the interplay between ERVs and their hosts. The mechanism of viral inactivation may be similar irrespective of the evolutionary history of retroviruses. The tracking of ancestral retroviruses can shed light on their roles in pathogenesis and host-virus evolution.IMPORTANCE Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) were domesticated from wildcats approximately 9,000?years ago via close interaction between humans and cats. During cat evolution, various exogenous retroviruses infected different cat lineages and generated numerous ERVs in the host genome, some of which remain replication competent. Here, we detected several ERV-DC loci in Felis silvestris silvestris Notably, a species-specific single nucleotide polymorphism in the ERV-DC14 env gene, which results in a replication-defective product, is highly prevalent in European wildcats, unlike the replication-competent ERV-DC14 that is commonly present in domestic cats. The presence of the same lethal mutation in the env genes of both FeLV and murine ERV provides a common mechanism shared by endogenous and exogenous retroviruses by which ERVs can be inactivated after endogenization. The antiviral role of Refrex-1 predates cat exposure to feline retroviruses. The existence of two ERV-DC14 phenotypes provides a unique model for understanding both ERV fate and cat domestication.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) comprise a significant percentage of the mammalian genome, and it is poorly understood whether they will remain as inactive genomes or emerge as infectious retroviruses. Although several types of ERVs are present in domestic cats, infectious ERVs have not been demonstrated. Here, we report a previously uncharacterized class of endogenous gammaretroviruses, termed ERV-DCs, that is present and hereditary in the domestic cat genome. We have characterized a subset of ERV-DC proviral clones, which are numbered according to their genomic insertions. One of these, ERV-DC10, located in the q12-q21 region on chromosome C1, is an infectious gammaretrovirus capable of infecting a broad range of cells, including human. Our studies indicate that ERV-DC10 entered the genome of domestic cats in the recent past and appeared to translocate to or reintegrate at a distinct locus as infectious ERV-DC18. Insertional polymorphism analysis revealed that 92 of 244 domestic cats had ERV-DC10 on a homozygous or heterozygous locus. ERV-DC-like sequences were found in primate and rodent genomes, suggesting that these ERVs, and recombinant viruses such as RD-114 and BaEV, originated from an ancestor of ERV-DC. We also found that a novel recombinant virus, feline leukemia virus subgroup D (FeLV-D), was generated by ERV-DC env transduction into feline leukemia virus in domestic cats. Our results indicate that ERV-DCs behave as donors and/or acceptors in the generation of infectious, recombinant viruses. The presence of such infectious endogenous retroviruses, which could be harmful or beneficial to the host, may affect veterinary medicine and public health.
Project description: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.
Project description:Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is horizontally transmitted among cats and causes a variety of hematopoietic disorders. Five subgroups of FeLV, A to D and T, each with distinct receptor usages, have been described. Recently, we identified a new FeLV Env (TG35-2) gene from a pseudotyped virus that does not belong to any known subgroup. FeLV-A is the primary virus from which other subgroups have emerged via mutation or recombination of the subgroup A env gene. Retrovirus entry into cells is mediated by the interaction of envelope protein (Env) with specific cell surface receptors. Here, phenotypic screening of a human/hamster radiation hybrid panel identified SLC19A1, a feline reduced folate carrier (RFC) and potential receptor for TG35-2-phenotypic virus. RFC is a multipass transmembrane protein. Feline and human RFC cDNAs conferred susceptibility to TG35-2-pseudotyped virus when introduced into nonpermissive cells but did not render these cells permissive to other FeLV subgroups or feline endogenous retrovirus. Moreover, human cells with genomic deletion of RFC were nonpermissive for TG35-2-pseudotyped virus infection, but the introduction of feline and human cDNAs rendered them permissive. Mutation analysis of FeLV Env demonstrated that amino acid substitutions within variable region A altered the specificity of the Env-receptor interaction. We isolated and reconstructed the full-length infectious TG35-2-phenotypic provirus from a naturally FeLV-infected cat, from which the FeLV Env (TG35-2) gene was previously isolated, and compared the replication of the virus in hematopoietic cell lines with that of FeLV-A 61E by measuring the viral RNA copy numbers. These results provide a tool for further investigation of FeLV infectious disease.IMPORTANCE Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a member of the genus Gammaretrovirus, which causes malignant diseases in cats. The most prevalent FeLV among cats is FeLV subgroup A (FeLV-A), and specific binding of FeLV-A Env to its viral receptor, thiamine transporter feTHTR1, is the first step of infection. In infected cats, novel variants of FeLV with altered receptor specificity for viral entry have emerged by mutation or recombination of the env gene. A novel FeLV variant arose from a subtle mutation of FeLV-A Env, which altered the specific interaction of the virus with its receptor. RFC, a folate transporter, is a potential receptor for the novel FeLV variant. The perturbation of specific retrovirus-receptor interactions under selective pressure by the host results in the emergence of novel viruses.
Project description:A new provirus clone of feline leukemia virus (FeLV), which we named FeLV-A (Rickard) or FRA, was characterized with respect to viral interference group, host range, complete genome sequence, and in vivo pathogenicity in specific-pathogen-free newborn cats. The in vitro studies indicated the virus to be an ecotropic subgroup A FeLV with 98% nucleotide sequence homology to another FeLV-A clone (F6A/61E), which had also been fully sequenced previously. Since subgroup B polytropic FeLVs (FeLV-B) are known to arise via recombination between ecotropic FeLV-A and endogenous FeLV (enFeLV) env elements, the in vivo studies were conducted by direct intradermal inoculation of the FRA plasmid DNA so as to eliminate the possibility of coinoculation of any FeLV-B which may be present in the inoculum prepared by propagating FeLV-A in feline cell cultures. The following observations were made from the in vivo experiments: (i) subgroup conversion from FeLV-A to FeLV-A and FeLV-B, as determined by the interference assay, appeared to occur in plasma between 10 and 16 weeks postinoculation (p.i.); (ii) FeLV-B-like recombinants (rFeLVs), however, could be detected in DNA isolated from buffy coats and bone marrow by PCR as early as 1 to 2 weeks p.i.; (iii) while a mixture of rFeLV species containing various amounts of N-terminal substitution of the endogenous FeLV-derived env sequences were detected at 8 weeks p.i., rFeLV species harboring relatively greater amounts of such substitution appeared to predominate at later infection time points; (iv) the deduced amino acid sequence of rFeLV clones manifested striking similarity to natural FeLV-B isolates, within the mid-SU region of the env sequenced in this work; and (v) four of the five cats, which were kept for determination of tumor incidence, developed thymic lymphosarcomas within 28 to 55 weeks p.i., with all tumor DNAs harboring both FeLV-A and rFeLV proviruses. These results provide direct evidence for how FeLV-B species evolve in vivo from FeLV-A and present a new experimental approach for efficient induction of thymic tumors in cats, which should be useful for the study of retroviral lymphomagenesis in this outbred species.
Project description:Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) was the first feline retrovirus discovered, and is associated with multiple fatal disease syndromes in cats, including lymphoma. The original research conducted on FeLV employed classical virological techniques. As methods have evolved to allow FeLV genetic characterization, investigators have continued to unravel the molecular pathology associated with this fascinating agent. In this review, we discuss how FeLV classification, transmission, and disease-inducing potential have been defined sequentially by viral interference assays, Sanger sequencing, PCR, and next-generation sequencing. In particular, we highlight the influences of endogenous FeLV and host genetics that represent FeLV research opportunities on the near horizon.
Project description:Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is an exogenous gammaretrovirus of domestic cats (Felis catus) and some wild felids. The outcomes of FeLV infection in domestic cats vary according to host susceptibility, virus strain, and infectious challenge dose. Jaguarundis (Puma yagouaroundi) are small wild felids from South and Central America. We previously reported on FeLV infections in jaguarundis. We hypothesized here that the outcomes of FeLV infection in P. yagouaroundi mimic those observed in domestic cats. The aim of this study was to investigate the population of jaguarundis at Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo for natural FeLV infection and resulting outcomes.We investigated the jaguarundis using serological and molecular methods and monitored them for FeLV-related diseases for 5 years. We retrieved relevant biological and clinical information for the entire population of 23 jaguarundis held at zoo. Post-mortem findings from necropsies were recorded and histopathological and immunohistopathological analyses were performed. Sequencing and phylogenetic analyses were performed for FeLV-positive samples. For sample prevalence, 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. Fisher's exact test was used to compare frequencies between infected and uninfected animals. P-values <0.05 were considered significant.In total, we detected evidence of FeLV exposure in four out of 23 animals (17%; 95% CI 5-39%). No endogenous FeLV (enFeLV) sequences were detected. An intestinal B-cell lymphoma in one jaguarundi was not associated with FeLV. Two jaguarundis presented FeLV test results consistent with an abortive FeLV infection with seroconversion, and two other jaguarundis had results consistent with a progressive infection and potentially FeLV-associated clinical disorders and post-mortem changes. Phylogenetic analysis of env revealed the presence of FeLV-A, a common origin of the virus in both animals (100% identity) and the closest similarity to FeLV-FAIDS and FeLV-3281 (98.4% identity), originally isolated from cats in the USA.We found evidence of progressive and abortive FeLV infection outcomes in jaguarundis, and domestic cats were probably the source of infection in these jaguarundis.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are the remnants of ancient retroviral infections of germ cells. Previous work identified one of the youngest feline ERV groups, ERV-DC, and reported that two ERV-DC loci, ERV-DC10 and ERV-DC18 (ERV-DC10/DC18), can replicate in cultured cells. Here, we identified another replication-competent provirus, ERV-DC14, on chromosome C1q32. ERV-DC14 differs from ERV-DC10/DC18 in its phylogeny, receptor usage, and, most notably, transcriptional activities; although ERV-DC14 can replicate in cultured cells, it cannot establish a persistent infection owing to its low transcriptional activity. Furthermore, we examined ERV-DC transcription and its regulation in feline tissues. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) detected extremely low ERV-DC10 expression levels in feline tissues, and bisulfite sequencing showed that 5' long terminal repeats (LTRs) of ERV-DC10/DC18 are significantly hypermethylated in feline blood cells. Reporter assays found that the 5'-LTR promoter activities of ERV-DC10/DC18 are high, whereas that of ERV-DC14 is low. This difference in promoter activity is due to a single substitution from A to T in the LTR, and reverse mutation at this nucleotide in ERV-DC14 enhanced its replication and enabled it to persistently infect cultured cells. Therefore, ERV-DC LTRs can be divided into two types based on this nucleotide, the A type or T type, which have strong or attenuated promoter activity, respectively. Notably, ERV-DCs with T-type LTRs, such as ERV-DC14, have expanded in the cat genome significantly more than A-type ERV-DCs, despite their low promoter activities. Our results provide insights into how the host controls potentially infectious ERVs and, conversely, how ERVs adapt to and invade the host genome.The domestic cat genome contains many endogenous retroviruses, including ERV-DCs. These ERV-DCs have been acquired through germ cell infections with exogenous retroviruses. Some of these ERV-DCs are still capable of producing infectious virions. Hosts must tightly control these ERVs because replication-competent viruses in the genome pose a risk to the host. Here, we investigated how ERV-DCs are adapted by their hosts. Replication-competent viruses with strong promoter activity, such as ERV-DC10 and ERV-DC18, were suppressed by promoter methylation in LTRs. On the other hand, replication-competent viruses with weak promoter activity, such as ERV-DC14, seemed to escape strict control via promoter methylation by the host. Interestingly, ERV-DCs with weak promoter activity, such as ERV-DC14, have expanded in the cat genome significantly more than ERV-DCs with strong promoter activity. Our results improve the understanding of the host-virus conflict and how ERVs adapt in their hosts over time.
Project description:The pathogenic subgroup C feline leukemia virus (FeLV-C) arises in infected cats as a result of mutations in the envelope (Env) of the subgroup A FeLV (FeLV-A). To better understand emergence of FeLV-C and potential FeLV intermediates that may arise, we characterized FeLV Env sequences from the primary FY981 FeLV isolate previously derived from an anemic cat. Here, we report the characterization of the novel FY981 FeLV Env that is highly related to FeLV-A Env but whose variable region A (VRA) receptor recognition sequence partially resembles the VRA sequence from the prototypical FeLV-C/Sarma Env. Pseudotype viruses bearing FY981 Env were capable of infecting feline, human, and guinea pig cells, suggestive of a subgroup C phenotype, but also infected porcine ST-IOWA cells that are normally resistant to FeLV-C and to FeLV-A. Analysis of the host receptor used by FY981 suggests that FY981 can use both the FeLV-C receptor FLVCR1 and the feline FeLV-A receptor THTR1 for infection. However, our results suggest that FY981 infection of ST-IOWA cells is not mediated by the porcine homologue of FLVCR1 and THTR1 but by an alternative receptor, which we have now identified as the FLVCR1-related protein FLVCR2. Together, our results suggest that FY981 FeLV uses FLVCR1, FLVCR2, and THTR1 as receptors. Our findings suggest the possibility that pathogenic FeLV-C arises in FeLV-infected cats through intermediates that are multitropic in their receptor use.