New World feline APOBEC3 potently controls inter-genus lentiviral transmission

Retrovirology. 2018 Apr 10;15(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s12977-018-0414-5.


Background: The apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3; A3) gene family appears only in mammalian genomes. Some A3 proteins can be incorporated into progeny virions and inhibit lentiviral replication. In turn, the lentiviral viral infectivity factor (Vif) counteracts the A3-mediated antiviral effect by degrading A3 proteins. Recent investigations have suggested that lentiviral vif genes evolved to combat mammalian APOBEC3 proteins, and have further proposed that the Vif-A3 interaction may help determine the co-evolutionary history of cross-species lentiviral transmission in mammals.

Results: Here we address the co-evolutionary relationship between two New World felids, the puma (Puma concolor) and the bobcat (Lynx rufus), and their lentiviruses, which are designated puma lentiviruses (PLVs). We demonstrate that PLV-A Vif counteracts the antiviral action of APOBEC3Z3 (A3Z3) of both puma and bobcat, whereas PLV-B Vif counteracts only puma A3Z3. The species specificity of PLV-B Vif is irrespective of the phylogenic relationships of feline species in the genera Puma, Lynx and Acinonyx. We reveal that the amino acid at position 178 in the puma and bobcat A3Z3 is exposed on the protein surface and determines the sensitivity to PLV-B Vif-mediated degradation. Moreover, although both the puma and bobcat A3Z3 genes are polymorphic, their sensitivity/resistance to PLV Vif-mediated degradation is conserved.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study suggesting that the host A3 protein potently controls inter-genus lentiviral transmission. Our findings provide the first evidence suggesting that the co-evolutionary arms race between lentiviruses and mammals has occurred in the New World.

Keywords: APOBEC3; Bobcat; Evolutionary arms race; FIV; Lentivirus; New World; PLV; Puma; Vif.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cytosine Deaminase / chemistry
  • Cytosine Deaminase / genetics*
  • Cytosine Deaminase / metabolism
  • Disease Resistance
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Products, vif
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline / classification
  • Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline / genetics
  • Lentivirus / classification
  • Lentivirus / physiology*
  • Lentivirus Infections / transmission*
  • Lentivirus Infections / virology*
  • Loss of Function Mutation
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteolysis
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Threonine / chemistry
  • Threonine / genetics


  • Gene Products, vif
  • Threonine
  • Cytosine Deaminase