Tracking the Fate of Endogenous Retrovirus Segregation in Wild and Domestic Cats.
ABSTRACT: 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) 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: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) 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:The main objective of this brief communication is to inform about the exposure to certain pathogens of interest for mesocarnivores in wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) that inhabit a human-domestic-wild ecotone located in a Natural Park (Serranía de Cuenca, Central Spain). Blood and mucosal swabs (nasal, conjunctival and rectal) samples were collected from nine alive animals to detect canine distemper virus (CDV), parvovirus (CPV/FPV), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline coronavirus (FCoV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Leptospira interrogans, Chlamydia felis, Ehrlichia canis, Toxoplasma gondii, and Neospora caninum. ELISA, immunochromatograpy, microscopy agglutination test and PCR assays were used. The results show the first worldwide detection of exposure of wildcats to L. interrogans (3 positive/9 analysed) and the first detection of exposure to CVD (7/9), of carriers ofC felis (2/9) and of fecal spreading of CPV-FPV (2/9) in wildcats in Spain. Exposure to T. gondii and CPV-FPV was detected in 5 of the 9 wildcats analysed, and to FelV in 4 of 9. No FIV, FCoV, Ehrlichia canis and Neospora caninum were detected. The results reveal the circulation of pathogens among the wildcat population studied, but more vigilance is needed for an accurate assessment of the impact of these pathogens on the health status of this population.
Project description:The development of high throughput SNP genotyping technologies has improved the genetic dissection of simple and complex traits in many species including cats. The properties of feline 62,897 SNPs Illumina Infinium iSelect DNA array are described using a dataset of over 2,000 feline samples, the most extensive to date, representing 41 cat breeds, a random bred population, and four wild felid species. Accuracy and efficiency of the array's genotypes and its utility in performing population-based analyses were evaluated. Average marker distance across the array was 37,741 Kb, and across the dataset, only 1% (625) of the markers exhibited poor genotyping and only 0.35% (221) showed Mendelian errors. Marker polymorphism varied across cat breeds and the average minor allele frequency (MAF) of all markers across domestic cats was 0.21. Population structure analysis confirmed a Western to Eastern structural continuum of cat breeds. Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium ranged from 50-1,500 Kb for domestic cats and 750 Kb for European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris). Array use in trait association mapping was investigated under different modes of inheritance, selection and population sizes. The efficient array design and cat genotype dataset continues to advance the understanding of cat breeds and will support monogenic health studies across feline breeds and populations.
Project description:An endogenous retrovirus (ERV) is a remnant of an ancient retroviral infection in the host genome. Although most ERVs have lost their viral productivity, a few ERVs retain their replication capacity. In addition, partially inactivated ERVs can present a potential risk to the host via their encoded virulence factors or the generation of novel viruses by viral recombination. ERVs can also eventually acquire a biological function, and this ability has been a driving force of host evolution. Therefore, the presence of an ERV can be harmful or beneficial to the host. Various reports about paleovirology have revealed each event in ERV evolution, but the continuous processes of ERV evolution over millions of years are mainly unknown. A unique ERV family, ERV-DC, is present in the domestic cat (Felis silvestriscatus) genome. ERV-DC proviruses are phylogenetically classified into three genotypes, and the specific characteristics of each genotype have been clarified: their capacity to produce infectious viruses; their recombination with other retroviruses, such as feline leukemia virus or RD-114; and their biological functions as host antiviral factors. In this review, we describe ERV-DC-related phenomena and discuss the continuous changes in the evolution of this ERV in the domestic cat.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections of host germ-line cells. While most ERVs are defective, some are active and express viral proteins. The RD-114 virus is a replication-competent feline ERV, and several feline cell lines produce infectious RD-114 viral particles. All domestic cats are considered to have an ERV locus encoding a replication-competent RD-114 virus in their genomes; however, the locus has not been identified. In this study, we investigated RD-114 virus-related proviral loci in genomes of domestic cats, and found that none were capable of producing infectious viruses. We also found that all domestic cats have an RD-114 virus-related sequence on chromosome C2, termed RDRS C2a, but populations of the other RDRSs are different depending on the regions where cats live or breed. Our results indicate that RDRS C2a, the oldest RD-114-related provirus, entered the host genome before an ancestor of domestic cats started diverging and the other new RDRSs might have integrated into migrating cats in Europe. We also show that infectious RD-114 virus can be resurrected by the recombination between two non-infectious RDRSs. From these data, we conclude that cats do not harbor infectious RD-114 viral loci in their genomes and RD-114-related viruses invaded cat genomes multiple times.
Project description:Recombination events induce significant genetic changes, and this process can result in virus genetic diversity or in the generation of novel pathogenicity. We discovered a new recombinant feline leukemia virus (FeLV) gag gene harboring an unrelated insertion, termed the X region, which was derived from Felis catus endogenous gammaretrovirus 4 (FcERV-gamma4). The identified FcERV-gamma4 proviruses have lost their coding capabilities, but some can express their viral RNA in feline tissues. Although the X-region-carrying recombinant FeLVs appeared to be replication-defective viruses, they were detected in 6.4% of tested FeLV-infected cats. All isolated recombinant FeLV clones commonly incorporated a middle part of the FcERV-gamma4 5'-leader region as an X region. Surprisingly, a sequence corresponding to the portion contained in all X regions is also present in at least 13 endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) observed in the cat, human, primate, and pig genomes. We termed this shared genetic feature the commonly shared (CS) sequence. Despite our phylogenetic analysis indicating that all CS-sequence-carrying ERVs are classified as gammaretroviruses, no obvious closeness was revealed among these ERVs. However, the Shannon entropy in the CS sequence was lower than that in other parts of the provirus genome. Notably, the CS sequence of human endogenous retrovirus T had 73.8% similarity with that of FcERV-gamma4, and specific signals were detected in the human genome by Southern blot analysis using a probe for the FcERV-gamma4 CS sequence. Our results provide an interesting evolutionary history for CS-sequence circulation among several distinct ancestral viruses and a novel recombined virus over a prolonged period.IMPORTANCE Recombination among ERVs or modern viral genomes causes a rapid evolution of retroviruses, and this phenomenon can result in the serious situation of viral disease reemergence. We identified a novel recombinant FeLV gag gene that contains an unrelated sequence, termed the X region. This region originated from the 5' leader of FcERV-gamma4, a replication-incompetent feline ERV. Surprisingly, a sequence corresponding to the X region is also present in the 5' portion of other ERVs, including human endogenous retroviruses. Scattered copies of the ERVs carrying the unique genetic feature, here named the commonly shared (CS) sequence, were found in each host genome, suggesting that ancestral viruses may have captured and maintained the CS sequence. More recently, a novel recombinant FeLV hijacked the CS sequence from inactivated FcERV-gamma4 as the X region. Therefore, tracing the CS sequences can provide unique models for not only the modern reservoir of new recombinant viruses but also the genetic features shared among ancient retroviruses.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The metastrongyloid nematodes Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, Troglostrongylus brevior and Angiostrongylus chabaudi are cardiopulmonary parasites affecting domestic cats (Felis catus) and wildcats (Felis silvestris). Although knowledge on these nematodes has been improved in the past years, gaps in our knowledge of their distribution and role of gastropods as intermediate hosts in Europe still exist. This study reports on the presence of these nematodes and their intermediate hosts in an area in Greece where domestic cats and wildcats occur in sympatry. METHODS:Terrestrial gastropods were collected in the field and identified morphologically and by mitochondrial DNA-sequence analysis. Metastrongyloid larvae were detected by artificial digestion, morphologically identified to the species and stage level and their identity was molecularly confirmed. RESULTS:Aelurostrongylus abstrusus was found in the snails Massylaea vermiculata and Helix lucorum, T. brevior in the slug Tandonia sp., and A. chabaudi in the slug Limax sp. and the snails H. lucorum and M. vermiculata. CONCLUSIONS:To the best of our knowledge this study provides the first reports of (i) terrestrial gastropods being naturally infected with A. chabaudi, (ii) T. brevior naturally infecting terrestrial gastropods in Europe, and (iii) A. abstrusus naturally infecting terrestrial gastropods in Greece. Furthermore, the present study describes for the first time developmental stages of A. chabaudi and T. brevior in naturally infected gastropods. The biological characteristics of various intermediate gastropod hosts that could influence the distribution and expansion of feline cardiopulmonary nematodes are discussed, along with epizootiological implications and perspectives.
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.