Fig.1 Structure of ALV. (Elamurugan, et al., 2015)
ALV (avian leukosis virus) is a simple retrovirus that causes chicken cancer. ALV is a member of the Retroviridae family and the genus Alpharetrovirus. The virus incorporates its genome into the host genome and alters the expression of nearby genes. This causative agent causes severe immunosuppression and is frequently associated with lymphoid leukemia, myelocytic myeloid leukemia, renal tumors, and other types of tumors. The natural host range of ALV is limited to birds, and it spreads through either vertical or horizontal transmission.
ALV is made up of one positive-stranded RNA dimer. The virions are spherical, enveloped, and range in size from 80 to 100 nm. The viral genome is about 7.2 kb in size. The ALV genome contains gag/pro, pol, and env genes, which encode the viral structural proteins, viral replication enzymes, and surface glycoproteins, respectively. The gag gene codes for the virion's internal structural proteins (p19, p10, p27, p12, and p15), the pol gene for RNA-dependent DNA polymerase, and the env gene for the envelope glycoprotein. Surface glycoprotein (SU) encoded by gp85 and transmembrane glycoprotein (TM) encoded by gp37 comprise the envelope glycoprotein. Aside from gag, pro, pol, and env, no other viral replication genes are known. Some members of the genus also encode oncogenes, but only in the context of faulty genomes.
Fig.2 A schematic diagram of the genome structure of ALV. (Bondada, et al., 2019)
ALVs are classified into 11 subgroups, ranging from ALV-A to ALV-K. Furthermore, ALVs can be classified as endogenous (ALV-E) or exogenous (ALV-E) viruses based on their mode of transmission. ALV-E are genes that are passed down through the chicken genome. Some can manifest in an infectious form. Endogenous retroviruses have been discovered to support antiviral immune responses via a variety of mechanisms. Exogenous ALVs spread in the form of infectious virus particles. Exogenous viruses are classified into subgroups A, B, C, D, J, and K based on their host range, viral envelope interference, and cross-neutralization patterns. Exogenous ALV has been shown to cause a variety of neoplastic diseases in chickens. Infection of Leghorn-type chickens is linked to subgroups A-D. ALV-J was first identified in the late 1980s and is mostly found in meat-type birds.
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