Introduction. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes a slowly progressive multiorgan disease in infected cats and shows considerable pathogenic similarities to the human immuno-deficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), the causative agent of AIDS (Miyazawa & Mikami, 1993; Pedersen , 1987; Yamamoto , 1988). It is therefore considered a useful small-animal model for HIV-1-induced AIDS studies. FIV belongs to the family , a group of small, enveloped positive-strand RNA viruses. These viruses have an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which enables them to replicate their RNA genome through a DNA intermediate (Coffin, 1992). FIV is a member of the genus and is closely related in biological characteristics and genome organization to other mammalian lentiviruses, including HIV, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), bovine immunodeficiency-like virus (BIV), equine infectious anaemia virus (EIAV), visna virus and caprine arthritis-encephalitis virus (CAEV) (Narayan & Clements, 1990).


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