Nature Methods 8, 853-859; doi:10.1038/nmeth.1703.
Pimprapar Wongsrikeao, Dyana Saenz, Tommy Rinkoski,, Takeshige Otoi & Eric Poeschla.
“Antiviral restriction factor transgenesis in the domestic cat“.
Three cats genetically modified to resist feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) have opened up new avenues for AIDS research.
The research could also help veterinarians combat the virus, which kills millions of feral cats each year and also infects big cats, including lions.
Prosaically named TgCat1, TgCat2 and TgCat3, the GM cats – now a year old – glow ghostly green under ultraviolet light because they have been given the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene originating from jellyfish.
The GM cats also carry an extra monkey gene, called TRIMCyp, which protects rhesus macaques from infection by feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV – responsible for cat AIDS.
By giving the gene to the cats, the team hopes to offer the animals protection from FIV. Their study could help researchers develop and test similar approaches to protecting humans from infection with HIV.
Already, the researchers have demonstrated that lab cultures of white blood cells from the cats are protected from FIV, and they hope to give the virus to the cats to check whether they are immune to it.
“The animals clearly have the protective gene expressed in all their tissues including the lymph nodes, thymus and spleen,” says Eric Poeschla of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine inRochester,Minnesota, who led the research. “That’s crucial because that’s where the disease really happens, and where you see destruction of T-cells targeted by HIV in humans.”