Infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a lentivirus similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), results in lifelong viral persistence and progressive immunopathology in the cat. FIV has the ability to infect and produce infectious virus in a number of different cell types. FIV provirus can also be maintained in a replication-competent but transcriptionally quiescent state, facilitating viral persistence over time. Immediately after the initial infection, FIV infection quickly disseminates to many anatomical compartments within the host including lymphoid organs, gastrointestinal tract and brain. Collectively, the anatomic and cellular compartments that harbour FIV provirus constitute the viral reservoir and contain foci of both ongoing viral replication and transcriptionally restricted virus that may persist over time. The relative importance of the different phenotypes observed for infected cells, anatomic compartment, replication status and size of the reservoir represent crucial areas of investigation for developing effective viral suppression and eradication therapies. In this review, we discuss what is currently known about FIV reservoirs, and emphasize the utility of the FIV-infected cat as a model for the HIV-infected human.
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