No Evidence that Cancer in Sea Lions Is Spread Through Contact
Urogenital carcinoma is a highly metastatic cancer affecting California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). The disease has high prevalence amongst stranded animals, and is one of the most commonly observed cancers in wildlife. The genital localisation of primary tumours suggests the possibility that coital transmission of an infectious agent could underlie this disease. Otarine herpesvirus type 1 has been associated with lesions, however a causative role for this virus has not been confirmed. We investigated the possibility that urogenital carcinoma might be clonally transmissible, spread by the direct transfer of cancer cells. Analysis of sequences at the mitochondrial DNA control region in seven matched tumour and host pairs confirmed that tumour genotypes were identical to those of their matched hosts and did not show similarity with tumours from other individuals. Thus our findings suggest that urogenital carcinoma in California sea lions is not clonally transmitted, but rather arises from transformed host cells.
Leathlobhair, M.N., Gulland, F.M.D., Murchison, E.P. 2017. No evidence for clonal transmission of urogenital carcinoma in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Research One 2017 2:46.