PLoS Pathogens: Evolutionary Reconstructions of the Transferrin Receptor of Caniforms Supports Canine Parvovirus Being a Re-emerged and Not a Novel Pathogen in Dogs

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“Parvoviruses exploit transferrin receptor type-1 (TfR) for cellular entry in carnivores, and specific interactions are key to control of host range. We show that several key mutations acquired by TfR during the evolution of Caniforms (dogs and related species) modified the interactions with parvovirus capsids by reducing the level of binding. These data, along with signatures of positive selection in the TFRC gene, are consistent with an evolutionary arms race between the TfR of the Caniform clade and parvoviruses. As well as the modifications of amino acid sequence which modify binding, we found that a glycosylation site mutation in the TfR of dogs which provided resistance to the carnivore parvoviruses which were in circulation prior to about 1975 predates the speciation of coyotes and dogs. Because the closely-related black-backed jackal has a TfR similar to their common ancestor and lacks the glycosylation site, reconstructing this mutation into the jackal TfR shows the potency of that site in blocking binding and infection and explains the resistance of dogs until recent times. This alters our understanding of this well-known example of viral emergence by indicating that canine parvovirus emergence likely resulted from the re-adaptation of a parvovirus to the resistant receptor of a former host.”


Nice to see Colin Parrish is still working on canine parvoviruses: I remember playing a Nintendo game with him in Ithaca, NY in 1991, and talking about viruses….

It is interesting that the arms race between virus and host can revive, as it has in this case: for the canine lineage to have lost susceptibility to parvovirus, and then have the virus regain the ability to infect is an excellent example of how host-pathogen interactions can change.

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