Feline calicivirus (FCV) is an important respiratory pathogen of cats. The virus often persists following infection and cats may shed virus for months and become lifelong carriers. Despite widespread vaccination, around 10% of the UK's 11 million cats carry FCV (current vaccines do not achieve sterilising immunity, they prevent overt disease). FCV has been implicated in the feline chronic gingivostomatitis complex, a significant welfare concern. Moreover, virulent systemic strains of FCV have emerged that cause high mortality, often in vaccinated cats. Improved FCV vaccines are needed.
CVR researchers aim to advance our understanding of immunity induced by FCV vaccines, as it is not yet clear how FCV vaccines protect against clinical disease. This work will also contribute to understanding immunity to the closely related human norovirus (NoV). Each year, NoV infections kill 200,000 children under five years of age in the developing world, and are a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis and deaths in the elderly and immunocompromised. Studying FCV may provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of immunity to NoV.
Contact: Brian Willett, Margaret Hosie
Image: Atomic resolution model of FCV decorated with a soluble fragment of its cellular receptor JAM-A.
Structural virologists in the CVR are investigating cell attachment and entry in FCV, using cryogenic electron microscopy and 3D image reconstruction.
Contact: David Bhella