Recombinant feline herpesviruses expressing feline leukemia virus envelope and gag proteins

Georgette E. Cole, Sandrina Stacy-Phipps, Jack H. Nunberg

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26 Scopus citations


We constructed recombinant feline herpesviruses (FHVs) expressing the envelope (env) and gag genes of feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Expression cassettes, utilizing the human cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter, were inserted within the thymidine kinase gene of FHV. The FeLV env glycoprotein expressed by recombinant FHV was processed and transported to the cell surface much as in FeLV infection, with the exception that proteolytic processing to yield the mature gp70 and pl5E proteins was less efficient in the context of herpesvirus infection. Glycosylation of the env protein was not affected; modification continued in the absence of efficient proteolytic processing to generate terminally glycosylated gp85 and gp70 proteins. A recombinant FHV containing the FeLV gag and protease genes expressed both gag and gag-protease precursor proteins. Functional protease was produced which mediated the proteolytic maturation of the FeLV gag proteins as in authentic FeLV infection. Use of these recombinant FHVs as live-virus vaccines may provide insight as to the role of specific retroviral proteins in protective immunity. The current use of conventional attenuated FHV vaccines speaks to the wider potential of recombinant FHVs for vaccination in cats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4930-4938
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1990


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