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Characterization of peritoneal cells from cats with experimentally-induced feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) using RNA-seq.


Laboratory cats were infected with a serotype I cat-passaged field strain of FIP virus (FIPV) and peritoneal cells harvested 2-3 weeks later at onset of lymphopenia, fever and serositis. Comparison peritoneal cells were collected from four healthy laboratory cats by peritoneal lavage and macrophages predominated in both populations. Differential mRNA expression analysis identified 5621 genes as deregulated in peritoneal cells from FIPV infected versus normal cats; 956 genes showed > 2.0 Log2 Fold Change (Log2FC) and 1589 genes showed < -2.0 Log2FC. Eighteen significantly upregulated pathways were identified by InnateDB enrichment analysis. These pathways involved apoptosis, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, pathogen recognition, Jak-STAT signaling, NK cell mediated cytotoxicity, several chronic infectious diseases, graft versus host disease, allograft rejection and certain autoimmune disorders. Infected peritoneal macrophages were activated M1 type based on pattern of RNA expression. Apoptosis was found to involve large virus-laden peritoneal macrophages more than less mature macrophages, suggesting that macrophage death played a role in virus dissemination. Gene transcripts for MHC I but not II receptors were upregulated, while mRNA for receptors commonly associated with virus attachment and identified in other coronaviruses were either not detected (APN, L-SIGN), not deregulated (DDP-4) or down-regulated (DC-SIGN). However, the mRNA for FcγRIIIA (CD16A/ADCC receptor) was significantly upregulated, supporting entry of virus as an immune complex. Analysis of KEGG associated gene transcripts indicated that Th1 polarization overshadowed Th2 polarization, but the addition of relevant B cell associated genes previously linked to FIP macrophages tended to alter this perception.

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