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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 3;109(14):5435-40. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119972109. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Feline morbillivirus, a previously undescribed paramyxovirus associated with tubulointerstitial nephritis in domestic cats.

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State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China.


We describe the discovery and isolation of a paramyxovirus, feline morbillivirus (FmoPV), from domestic cat (Felis catus). FmoPV RNA was detected in 56 (12.3%) of 457 stray cats (53 urine, four rectal swabs, and one blood sample) by RT-PCR. Complete genome sequencing of three FmoPV strains showed genome sizes of 16,050 bases, the largest among morbilliviruses, because of unusually long 5' trailer sequences of 400 nt. FmoPV possesses identical gene contents (3'-N-P/V/C-M-F-H-L-5') and is phylogenetically clustered with other morbilliviruses. IgG against FmoPV N protein was positive in 49 sera (76.7%) of 56 RT-PCR-positive cats, but 78 (19.4%) of 401 RT-PCR-negative cats (P < 0.0001) by Western blot. FmoPV was isolated from CRFK feline kidney cells, causing cytopathic effects with cell rounding, detachment, lysis, and syncytia formation. FmoPV could also replicate in subsequent passages in primate Vero E6 cells. Infected cell lines exhibited finely granular and diffuse cytoplasmic fluorescence on immunostaining for FmoPV N protein. Electron microscopy showed enveloped virus with typical "herringbone" appearance of helical N in paramyxoviruses. Histological examination of necropsy tissues in two FmoPV-positive cats revealed interstitial inflammatory infiltrate and tubular degeneration/necrosis in kidneys, with decreased cauxin expression in degenerated tubular epithelial cells, compatible with tubulointerstitial nephritis (TIN). Immunohistochemical staining revealed FmoPV N protein-positive renal tubular cells and mononuclear cells in lymph nodes. A case-control study showed the presence of TIN in seven of 12 cats with FmoPV infection, but only two of 15 cats without FmoPV infection (P < 0.05), suggesting an association between FmoPV and TIN.

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