Multiple recombination events between endogenous retroviral elements and feline leukemia virus

Minh Ha Ngo, Loai AbuEed, Junna Kawasaki, Naoki Oishi, Didik Pramono, Tohru Kimura, Masashi Sakurai, Kenji Watanabe, Yoichi Mizukami, Haruyo Ochi, Yukari Anai, Yuka Odahara, Daigo Umehara, Maki Kawamura, Shinya Watanabe, Ariko Miyake, Kazuo Nishigaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is an exogenous retrovirus that causes malignant hematopoietic disorders in domestic cats, and its virulence may be closely associated with viral sequences. FeLV is classifiedinto several subgroups, including A, B, C, D, E, and T, based on viral receptor interference properties or receptor usage. However, the transmission manner and disease specificityof the recombinant viruses FeLV-D and FeLV-B remain unclear. The aim of this study was to understand recombination events between exogenous and endogenous retroviruses within a host and elucidate the emergence and transmission of recombinant viruses. We observed multiple recombination events involving endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) in FeLV from a family of domestic cats kept in one house; two of these cats (ON-T and ON-C) presented with lymphoma and leukemia, respectively. Clonal integration of FeLV-D was observed in the ON-T case, suggesting an association with FeLV-D pathogenesis. Notably, the receptor usage of FeLV-B observed in ON-T was mediated by feline Pit1 and feline Pit2, whereas only feline Pit1 was used in ON-C. Furthermore, XR-FeLV, a recombinant FeLV containing an unrelated sequence referred to the X-region, which is homologous to a portion of the 5'-leader sequence of Felis catus endogenous gammaretrovirus 4 (FcERV-gamma4), was isolated. Genetic analysis suggested that most recombinant viruses occurred de novo; however, the possibility of FeLV-B transmission was also recognized in the family. This study demonstrated the occurrence of multiple recombination events between exogenous and endogenous retroviruses in domestic cats, highlighting the contribution of ERVs to pathogenic recombinant viruses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Feb


  • domestic cats
  • endogenous retroviruses
  • feline leukemia virus
  • genetic recombination
  • pathogenesis
  • transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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