Genetic and phylogenetic divergence of feline immunodeficiency virus in the puma (Puma concolor)

Margaret A. Carpenter, Eric W. Brown, Melanie Culver, Warren E. Johnson, Jill Pecon-Slattery, Dulce Brousset, Stephen J. O'Brien

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Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a lentivirus which causes an AIDS-like disease in domestic cats (Felis catus). A number of other felid species, including the puma (Puma concolor), carry a virus closely related to domestic cat FIV. Serological testing revealed the presence of antibodies to FlY in 22% of 434 samples from throughout the geographic range of the puma. FIV-Pco pol gene sequences isolated from pumas revealed extensive sequence diversity, greater than has been documented in the domestic cat. The puma sequences formed two highly divergent groups, analogous to the clades which have been defined for domestic cat and lion (Panthera leo) FIV. The puma clade A was made up of samples from Florida and California, whereas clade B consisted of samples from other parts of North America, Central America, and Brazil. The difference between these two groups was as great as that reported among three lion FIV clades. Within puma clades, sequence variation is large, comparable to between-clade differences seen for domestic cat clades, allowing recognition of 15 phylogenetic lineages (subclades) among puma FIV- Pco. Large sequence divergence among isolates, nearly complete species monophyly, and widespread geographic distribution suggest that FIV-Pco has evolved within the puma species for a long period. The sequence data provided evidence for vertical transmission of FIV-Pco from mothers to their kittens, for coinfection of individuals by two different viral strains, and for cross- species transmission of FIV (from a domestic cat to a puma. These factors may all be important for understanding the epidemiology and natural history of FlV in the puma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6682-6693
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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