Genetic diversity of feline immunodeficiency virus: dual infection, recombination, and distinct evolutionary rates among envelope sequence clades

J Virol. 1997 Jun;71(6):4241-53. doi: 10.1128/JVI.71.6.4241-4253.1997.


For the rapid genetic analysis of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), we developed a heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA) that utilizes a PCR-amplified fragment of the FIV envelope gene spanning the third and fourth variable regions of the envelope surface protein coding sequence. Viral sequences were successfully amplified from blood specimens from 98 naturally infected cats from Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, South Africa, and the United States. Eighty were clearly assignable to the A or B envelope sequence subtypes. Three belonged to subtype C, one was dually infected with viruses harboring the A and B env subtypes, and several were categorized as outliers to any of the established subtypes or as probable intersubtype recombinants. Some geographic clustering was evident, with subtypes A and B found in greater frequency in the western and eastern regions of the United States, respectively. Subtypes A, B, and C were found on more than one continent, and countries with more than two samples analyzed contained at least two subtypes. The broadest representation of subtypes was found in Munich, Germany, where three subtypes and one virus that was not classifiable by HMA were found. Thirteen samples were selected for DNA sequence determination over the same region of env used for HMA. Analysis of all available FIV env sequences from this and previous studies revealed the existence of recombinant viruses generated from subtype A/B, B/D, and A/C envelope gene sequences. Subtype A env sequences were less diverse than subtype B sequences, although both groups had well-supported clusters. Furthermore, the mutational pattern giving rise to diversification in the two subtypes differed, with the subtype A viruses showing half as many synonymous site mutations compared to subtype B yet showing similar levels of nonsynonymous site changes. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that FIV-B is an older virus group and is possibly more host adapted than FIV-A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution
  • Canada
  • Cats / microbiology*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Genes, env*
  • Germany
  • Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline / genetics*
  • Italy
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • South Africa
  • United States


  • DNA, Viral

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U57011
  • GENBANK/U57012
  • GENBANK/U57013
  • GENBANK/U57014
  • GENBANK/U57015
  • GENBANK/U57016
  • GENBANK/U57017
  • GENBANK/U57018
  • GENBANK/U57019
  • GENBANK/U57020
  • GENBANK/U57021
  • GENBANK/U57022
  • GENBANK/U57023