Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (FOSCC) may be the best naturally-occurring model of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). HNSCC can be broadly divided into human papillomavirus (HPV)-negative cancers and HPV-positive cancers where HPV is the causative agent. Previous studies in FOSCC have used both species-specific and species-nonspecific PCR primers that may be insensitive to the detection of PVs and other viruses that may be divergent from known sequences. ViroCap is a targeted capture and next generation sequencing tool that was designed to identify all known vertebrate DNA and RNA viruses. In this study we used a metagenomic approach using ViroCap for DNA viruses in 20 FOSCC, 9 normal feline oral mucosal, and 8 suspected PV positive control samples. We tested the hypothesis that viruses would be enriched in FOSCC compared to normal oral mucosa. The virome of the FOSCC and normal feline oral mucosa consisted of feline foamy virus in 7/20 and 2/9 (35% and 22%), feline torque teno virus in 2/20 and 0/9 (10% and 0%), alphaherpesvirus in 2/10 and 0/9 (10% and 0%), FIV (0% and 22%), Epstein-Barr virus in 1/20 and 0/9 (5% and 0%) and feline papillomavirus in 1/20 and 0/9 samples (5% and 0% respectively). Felis catus papillomavirus-3 was found in 1 of 20 FOSCC samples. A virus was not associated consistently with FOSCC. If PVs have a role in FOSCC it is at most a supplementary or uncommon role. FOSCC appears most closely related to HPV-negative HNSCC. Future research on FOSCC should focus on identifying genetic and environmental causes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108491
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Epstein Barr virus
  • Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma
  • Metagenomic
  • Sequencing
  • Virome


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