The signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) is a receptor for morbilliviruses. To understand the recent host range expansion of canine distemper virus (CDV) in carnivores, we determined the nucleotide sequences of SLAMs of various carnivores and generated three-dimensional homology SLAM models. Thirty-four amino acid residues were found for the candidates binding to CDV on the interface of the carnivore SLAMs. SLAM of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) were similar to those of other members of the suborder Caniformia, indicating that the animals in this group have similar sensitivity to dog CDV. However, they were different at nine positions from those of felids. Among the nine residues, four of domestic cat (Felis catus) SLAM (72, 76, 82, and 129) and three of lion (Panthera leo persica) SLAM (72, 82, and 129) were associated with charge alterations, suggesting that the felid interfaces have lower affinities to dog CDV. Only the residue at 76 was different between domestic cat and lion SLAM interfaces. The domestic cat SLAM had threonine at 76, whereas the lion SLAM had arginine, a positively charged residue like that of the dog SLAM. The cat SLAM with threonine is likely to have lower affinity to CDV-H and to confer higher resistance against dog CDV. Thus, the four residues (72, 76, 82, and 129) on carnivore SLAMs are important for the determination of affinity and sensitivity with CDV. Additionally, the CDV-H protein of felid strains had a substitution of histidine for tyrosine at 549 of dog CDV-H and may have higher affinity to lion SLAM. Three-dimensional model construction is a new risk assessment method of morbillivirus infectivity. Because the method is applicable to animals that have no information about virus infection, it is especially useful for morbillivirus risk assessment and wildlife conservation.
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Vol. 50 • No. 3