Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Heather Holmes, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Hedeel Evans, Ph.D.


Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that inhibits feline immune systems and predisposes its host to infections and diseases. Much is unknown about FeLV, including the nature and location of its insertion sites. Identifying insertion sites of the provirus can provide information about mechanisms of tumorigenesis and identifY new protooncogenes. To search for insertion sites, gene-specific primers were designed and a genome walking method was optimized for our application. Using the optimized process, blood and tissue samples were examined for FeLV provirus. The cat from which we received samples showed neurological symptoms before death; therefore, we hypothesized FeLV sequences would be present in brain tissue. We also hypothesized that brain sequences and insertion sites would differ from specific sequences found in blood and other tissue samples. Exogenous FeLV-B sequences were successfully amplified from blood, brain and lymph tissues and no differences were found between sequences. Exogenous sequences in the brain indicate the presence of cellular receptors recognizable by FeLV-B. This is significant because previous research suggested that brain cells have a resistance to the virus. Furthering knowledge of mechanisms and locations of insertion can lead to a more complete understanding of FeLV disease progression, ultimately leading to the development of more effective treatments, conserving the health of domesticated and large endangered feline species.