Factors that restrict a virus from establishing productive infection in a new host species are important to understand because cross-species transmission events are often associated with emergent viral diseases. To determine the evolutionary pressures on viruses in new host species, we evaluated the molecular evolution of a feline immunodeficiency virus derived from a wild cougar, Puma concolor, during infection of domestic cats. Analyses were based on the coding portion of genome sequences recovered at intervals over 37 weeks of infection of six cats inoculated by either intravenous or oral-nasal routes. All cats inoculated intravenously, but only one inoculated orally-nasally, became persistently viremic. There were notable accumulations of lethal errors and predominance of G-to-A alterations throughout the genome, which were marked in the viral polymerase gene, pol. Viral structural (env and gag) and accessory (vif and orfA) genes evolved neutrally or were under purifying selection. However, sites under positive selection were identified in reverse transcriptase that involved residues in the nucleotide binding pocket or those contacting the RNA-DNA duplex. The findings of extensive G-to-A alterations in this cross-species infection are consistent with the recently described editing of host cytidine deaminase on lentivirus genomes. Additionally, we demonstrate that the primary site of hypermutation is the viral pol gene and the dominant selective force acting on this feline immunodeficiency virus as it replicates in a new host species is on key residues of the virus polymerase.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science