Cat-versus-virus arms race goes back millennia | Science News

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Cat-versus-virus arms race goes back millennia

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7:00am, October 27, 2015
kitten

Evidence from a protein that helps combat the feline version of HIV suggests a lengthy conflict between cats and the virus. 

Cats have been fighting feline immuno­deficiency virus, or FIV, for at least 60,000 years. In a feline protein that helps stop FIV replication, researchers have found evidence of an ancient arms race between Felis silvestris catus, the species familiar today as the domestic cat, and the virus.

Domestic cats carry seven different versions, or haplotypes, of this protein, called APOBEC3Z3. But it’s unclear how each version affects cats’ ability to fight the virus.

FIV breaks down most versions of APOBEC3Z3, allowing the virus to keep infecting cells. But one variant of the protein, haplotype V, staves off destruction, Rokusuke

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