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Open Access Subgroup J avian leukosis virus infection in turkeys: induction of rapid onset tumours by acutely transforming virus strain 966

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Avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J), isolated in the late 1980s, predominantly causes myelocytic myeloid leukosis in meat-type chickens. In the past 10 years, ALV-J infection has become very widespread, causing serious problems to the chicken meat industry. Previously, we have shown that turkey cells can be infected in vitro with Rous sarcoma virus pseudotypes of ALV-J. In this paper, we extend those observations to show that turkey monocyte cultures can be transformed in vitro with acutely transforming ALV-J strain 966. We also show that turkeys are experimentally susceptible to infection with ALV-J prototype strain HPRS–103. However, neoplastic lesions were not observed in these birds, probably due to the short experimental period of 10 weeks. When inoculated into 1-day-old turkey poults, acutely transforming ALV-J strain 966 induced tumours between 3 and 4 weeks after infection. Most of the birds showed tumours involving the liver, with histopathological lesions of myelocytomatosis. The demonstration of the spread of HPRS–103 by contact among turkeys, although observed only at low levels in the present study, stresses the importance of segregation of turkey and chicken breeding operations to avoid the spread of ALV-J infection.

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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Viral Oncogenesis Group, Institute for Animal Health, Compton, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 7NN, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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