Capsid Protein Genetic Analysis and Viral Spread to the Spinal Cord in Cats Experimentally Infected with Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

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We investigated primitively the molecular basis of the neural spread of a feline calcivirus isolate (FCV-S) from the spinal cord of a cat that died after manifesting excitation. Experimental infections of cats with three clones from parent virus isolate FCV-S, isolated based on plaque size, were performed, and virus recovery from the spinal cord and the nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequences of the viral capsid protein region (ORF2) were compared. In the experimental infection with the one-time cloned virus (C1L1) isolated from a large plaque, the C1L1 was recovered from the spinal cord. In contrast, seven-times cloned C6L7 (from large plaque) and five-times cloned C5S2 (isolated from small plaque) were not recovered from the spinal cord. Genetic analysis of the capsid protein gene of the three viral clones revealed that four bases were different and two amino acids were different at positions 34 (Val in C6L7 and Ala in C1L1 and C5S2) and 46 (Leu in C6L7 and Pro in C1L1 and C5S2) between C6L7 (with large plaque) and C5S2 (with small plaque). The amino acid at position 434 of C1L1 was different from those of C6L7 and C5S2 (Gly in C1L1, D (Asp) in C6L7 and C5S2). From these results, the plaque size seemed not to be related to the spread of virus to the spinal cord. Clone C1L1, which spread to the spinal cord, had a difference of one amino acid from the other two clones, which may be related to the ability to spread to the spinal cord.

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