Bovine leukemia virus

Project Team: Philip Griebel

Bovine leukaemia virus (BLV) causes B-cell leukaemia in cattle. Following a long period of asymptomatic infection ∼5% of BLV-infected animals develop leukaemia/lymphoma. The virus infects ∼50 million dairy cattle worldwide leading to substantial economic costs in infected herds.

Our research focuses on understanding the role of viral miRNA and antisense transcripts in regulating host cell function and BLV-induced oncogenesis. We confirmed BLV integration into the host genome occurs in the regions adjacent to multiple oncogenes and this integration results in novel transcripts that may contribute to the long-term survival of BLV infected B cells. Single cell genome sequencing and transcriptomics is now being used to identify the specific genetic changes that define the transformation required for a single B cell clone into a leukemia or lymphoma.

This research will support the development of a safe and effective BLV vaccine.