The complete nucleotide sequence of the avian leukosis virus causing so-called fowl glioma has been previously determined. Primers were designed for detection of the fowl glioma-causal virus (FGV) based on the 3′ untranslated region of the viral genome. The provirus and viral RNA of FGV were specifically detected in various organs and tissues, including feather pulp, from experimentally infected birds using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse transcription nested PCR. The prevalence of FGV was evaluated in 131 Japanese fowls of a zoological garden in Japan based on the detection of the FGV genome in feather pulp using PCR and the detection of viral antigen in faeces by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. FGV proviral DNA was detected in feather pulp of 52 birds (39.7%) by nested PCR. Later, nine dead birds from among the 52 were histologically diagnosed as having fowl glioma and found to have the proviral DNA in the affected brain. These results demonstrated that the PCR-based detection of FGV in feather pulp is useful for epidemiological studies on fowl glioma.
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