Feline calicivirus (FCV) is a common cause of cat flu or ‘colds’. In rare instances, some types of FCV can cause severe and life-‐threatening disease. The available vaccines lessen the severity of the clinical signs, but do not prevent infection. FCV disease is a major problem in shelters where the virus is easily spread. Some cats in colonies appear to be resistant to infection with FCV, despite exposure. The reason for this resistance to infection is unknown.
Based on previous work, the researchers believe that genetic variability in the cell surface protein to which FCV attaches, feline junctional adhesion molecule A (fJAM-‐A), might explain resistance to FCV in some cats. They will test for genetic differences between cats in the gene for fJAM-‐A. Based on initial observations, the researchers expect to identify natural variants in cats and that variations in the fJAM-‐A gene could be markers of susceptibility or resistance to FCV disease. If proven, then a genetic test could identify resistant cats allowing selective breeding of such cats or the identified gene may provide a target for new FCV vaccine development.