Special Issue "Rodent-Borne Viruses"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Viruses".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Rainer Günter Ulrich
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, and German Center of Infection Research (DZIF), Partner site Hamburg-Lübeck-Borstel-Insel Riems, Südufer 10, 17493 Greifswald - Insel Riems, Germany
Interests: rodent-borne pathogens; bornaviruses (like hantavirus and hepatitis E virus); rat-borne pathogens
Prof. Dr. Gerald Heckel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Interests: host-pathogen co-evolution; speciation; virus ecology; molecular evolution; rodent; hantavirus

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rodents represent the most diverse order of mammals and have been identified as reservoirs of a variety of viral agents. Rodents show diverse life history traits, and some species live closely associated with human dwellings and/or domestic or zoo animals. The roles of rodents as reservoirs and vectors for pathogen transmission have probably been best studied for zoonotic viruses, while less is known about these functions for arboviruses. In addition, several new rodent-associated viruses have been discovered in recent years, which may not be zoonotic themselves but possibly affect susceptibility to zoonotic pathogens, the outcome of the infection, and/or the fitness of the rodent host. These novel viruses could serve as systems for the development of new animal models for related human pathogens.

This thematic issue aims to cover the whole spectrum of research on rodent-borne viruses, including the description of novel viruses; studies on virus–host interaction, co-infections, and involved viral and cellular factors; ecological processes shaping virus diversity and host adaptation; evolutionary processes in viruses and their rodent reservoirs; and the pathogenicity of viruses in rodent reservoirs and spillover-infected species.

Prof. Dr. Rainer Günter Ulrich
Prof. Dr. Gerald Heckel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • virus ecology and evolution
  • host adaptation
  • transmission
  • pathogenicity
  • virus–host interaction
  • virus discovery
  • zoonosis
  • animal model
  • rodents and arboviruses
  • co-infection

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Article
Evolutionary Relationships of Ljungan Virus Variants Circulating in Multi-Host Systems across Europe
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1317; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071317 - 07 Jul 2021
Viewed by 705
Abstract
The picornavirus named ‘Ljungan virus’ (LV, species Parechovirus B) has been detected in a dozen small mammal species from across Europe, but detailed information on its genetic diversity and host specificity is lacking. Here, we analyze the evolutionary relationships of LV variants [...] Read more.
The picornavirus named ‘Ljungan virus’ (LV, species Parechovirus B) has been detected in a dozen small mammal species from across Europe, but detailed information on its genetic diversity and host specificity is lacking. Here, we analyze the evolutionary relationships of LV variants circulating in free-living mammal populations by comparing the phylogenetics of the VP1 region (encoding the capsid protein and associated with LV serotype) and the 3Dpol region (encoding the RNA polymerase) from 24 LV RNA-positive animals and a fragment of the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) sequence (used for defining strains) in sympatric small mammals. We define three new VP1 genotypes: two in bank voles (Myodes glareolus) (genotype 8 from Finland, Sweden, France, and Italy, and genotype 9 from France and Italy) and one in field voles (Microtus arvalis) (genotype 7 from Finland). There are several other indications that LV variants are host-specific, at least in parts of their range. Our results suggest that LV evolution is rapid, ongoing and affected by genetic drift, purifying selection, spillover and host evolutionary history. Although recent studies suggest that LV does not have zoonotic potential, its widespread geographical and host distribution in natural populations of well-characterized small mammals could make it useful as a model for studying RNA virus evolution and transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Geographical Distribution and Genetic Diversity of Bank Vole Hepaciviruses in Europe
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1258; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071258 - 28 Jun 2021
Viewed by 963
Abstract
The development of new diagnostic methods resulted in the discovery of novel hepaciviruses in wild populations of the bank vole (Myodes glareolus, syn. Clethrionomys glareolus). The naturally infected voles demonstrate signs of hepatitis similar to those induced by hepatitis C [...] Read more.
The development of new diagnostic methods resulted in the discovery of novel hepaciviruses in wild populations of the bank vole (Myodes glareolus, syn. Clethrionomys glareolus). The naturally infected voles demonstrate signs of hepatitis similar to those induced by hepatitis C virus (HCV) in humans. The aim of the present research was to investigate the geographical distribution of bank vole-associated hepaciviruses (BvHVs) and their genetic diversity in Europe. Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) screening revealed BvHV RNA in 442 out of 1838 (24.0%) bank voles from nine European countries and in one of seven northern red-backed voles (Myodes rutilus, syn. Clethrionomys rutilus). BvHV RNA was not found in any other small mammal species (n = 23) tested here. Phylogenetic and isolation-by-distance analyses confirmed the occurrence of both BvHV species (Hepacivirus F and Hepacivirus J) and their sympatric occurrence at several trapping sites in two countries. The broad geographical distribution of BvHVs across Europe was associated with their presence in bank voles of different evolutionary lineages. The extensive geographical distribution and high levels of genetic diversity of BvHVs, as well as the high population fluctuations of bank voles and occasional commensalism in some parts of Europe warrant future studies on the zoonotic potential of BvHVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Bayesian Binary Mixture Models as a Flexible Alternative to Cut-Off Analysis of ELISA Results, a Case Study of Seoul Orthohantavirus
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1155; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061155 - 16 Jun 2021
Viewed by 661
Abstract
Serological assays, such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), are popular tools for establishing the seroprevalence of various infectious diseases in humans and animals. In the ELISA, the optical density is measured and gives an indication of the antibody level. However, there is [...] Read more.
Serological assays, such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), are popular tools for establishing the seroprevalence of various infectious diseases in humans and animals. In the ELISA, the optical density is measured and gives an indication of the antibody level. However, there is variability in optical density values for individuals that have been exposed to the pathogen of interest, as well as individuals that have not been exposed. In general, the distribution of values that can be expected for these two categories partly overlap. Often, a cut-off value is determined to decide which individuals should be considered seropositive or seronegative. However, the classical cut-off approach based on a putative threshold ignores heterogeneity in immune response in the population and is thus not the optimal solution for the analysis of serological data. A binary mixture model does include this heterogeneity, offers measures of uncertainty and the direct estimation of seroprevalence without the need for correction based on sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, the probability of being seropositive can be estimated for individual samples, and both continuous and categorical covariates (risk-factors) can be included in the analysis. Using ELISA results from rats tested for the Seoul orthohantavirus, we compared the classical cut-off method with a binary mixture model set in a Bayesian framework. We show that it performs similarly or better than cut-off methods, by comparing with real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) results. We therefore recommend binary mixture models as an analysis tool over classical cut-off methods. An example code is included to facilitate the practical use of binary mixture models in everyday practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Spatial and Temporal Dynamics and Molecular Evolution of Tula orthohantavirus in German Vole Populations
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061132 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 826
Abstract
Tula orthohantavirus (TULV) is a rodent-borne hantavirus with broad geographical distribution in Europe. Its major reservoir is the common vole (Microtus arvalis), but TULV has also been detected in closely related vole species. Given the large distributional range and high amplitude [...] Read more.
Tula orthohantavirus (TULV) is a rodent-borne hantavirus with broad geographical distribution in Europe. Its major reservoir is the common vole (Microtus arvalis), but TULV has also been detected in closely related vole species. Given the large distributional range and high amplitude population dynamics of common voles, this host–pathogen complex presents an ideal system to study the complex mechanisms of pathogen transmission in a wild rodent reservoir. We investigated the dynamics of TULV prevalence and the subsequent potential effects on the molecular evolution of TULV in common voles of the Central evolutionary lineage. Rodents were trapped for three years in four regions of Germany and samples were analyzed for the presence of TULV-reactive antibodies and TULV RNA with subsequent sequence determination. The results show that individual (sex) and population-level factors (abundance) of hosts were significant predictors of local TULV dynamics. At the large geographic scale, different phylogenetic TULV clades and an overall isolation-by-distance pattern in virus sequences were detected, while at the small scale (<4 km) this depended on the study area. In combination with an overall delayed density dependence, our results highlight that frequent, localized bottleneck events for the common vole and TULV do occur and can be offset by local recolonization dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Prevalence of Orthohantavirus-Reactive Antibodies in Humans and Peri-Domestic Rodents in Northern Ethiopia
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061054 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 826
Abstract
In 2012, Tigray orthohantavirus was discovered in Ethiopia, but its seasonal infection in small mammals, and whether it poses a risk to humans was unknown. The occurrence of small mammals, rodents and shrews, in human inhabitations in northern Ethiopia is affected by season [...] Read more.
In 2012, Tigray orthohantavirus was discovered in Ethiopia, but its seasonal infection in small mammals, and whether it poses a risk to humans was unknown. The occurrence of small mammals, rodents and shrews, in human inhabitations in northern Ethiopia is affected by season and presence of stone bunds. We sampled small mammals in two seasons from low- and high-density stone bund fields adjacent to houses and community-protected semi-natural habitats in Atsbi and Hagere Selam, where Tigray orthohantavirus was first discovered. We collected blood samples from both small mammals and residents using filter paper. The presence of orthohantavirus-reactive antibodies in blood was then analyzed using immunofluorescence assay (human samples) and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (small mammal samples) with Puumala orthohantavirus as antigen. Viral RNA was detected by RT-PCR using small mammal blood samples. Total orthohantavirus prevalence (antibodies or virus RNA) in the small mammals was 3.37%. The positive animals were three Stenocephalemys albipes rats (prevalence in this species = 13.04%). The low prevalence made it impossible to determine whether season and stone bunds were associated with orthohantavirus prevalence in the small mammals. In humans, we report the first detection of orthohantavirus-reactive IgG antibodies in Ethiopia (seroprevalence = 5.26%). S. albipes lives in close proximity to humans, likely increasing the risk of zoonotic transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Presence and Diversity of Different Enteric Viruses in Wild Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus)
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 992; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13060992 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 968
Abstract
Rodents are common reservoirs for numerous zoonotic pathogens, but knowledge about diversity of pathogens in rodents is still limited. Here, we investigated the occurrence and genetic diversity of enteric viruses in 51 Norway rats collected in three different countries in Europe. RNA of [...] Read more.
Rodents are common reservoirs for numerous zoonotic pathogens, but knowledge about diversity of pathogens in rodents is still limited. Here, we investigated the occurrence and genetic diversity of enteric viruses in 51 Norway rats collected in three different countries in Europe. RNA of at least one virus was detected in the intestine of 49 of 51 animals. Astrovirus RNA was detected in 46 animals, mostly of rat astroviruses. Human astrovirus (HAstV-8) RNA was detected in one, rotavirus group A (RVA) RNA was identified in eleven animals. One RVA RNA could be typed as rat G3 type. Rat hepatitis E virus (HEV) RNA was detected in five animals. Two entire genome sequences of ratHEV were determined. Human norovirus RNA was detected in four animals with the genotypes GI.P4-GI.4, GII.P33-GII.1, and GII.P21. In one animal, a replication competent coxsackievirus A20 strain was detected. Additionally, RNA of an enterovirus species A strain was detected in the same animal, albeit in a different tissue. The results show a high detection rate and diversity of enteric viruses in Norway rats in Europe and indicate their significance as vectors for zoonotic transmission of enteric viruses. The detailed role of Norway rats and transmission pathways of enteric viruses needs to be investigated in further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Multiple Mammarenaviruses Circulating in Angolan Rodents
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 982; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13060982 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 1216
Abstract
Rodents are a speciose group of mammals with strong zoonotic potential. Some parts of Africa are still underexplored for the occurrence of rodent-borne pathogens, despite this high potential. Angola is at the convergence of three major biogeographical regions of sub-Saharan Africa, each harbouring [...] Read more.
Rodents are a speciose group of mammals with strong zoonotic potential. Some parts of Africa are still underexplored for the occurrence of rodent-borne pathogens, despite this high potential. Angola is at the convergence of three major biogeographical regions of sub-Saharan Africa, each harbouring a specific rodent community. This rodent-rich area is, therefore, strategic for studying the diversity and evolution of rodent-borne viruses. In this study we examined 290 small mammals, almost all rodents, for the presence of mammarenavirus and hantavirus RNA. While no hantavirus was detected, we found three rodent species positive for distinct mammarenaviruses with a particularly high prevalence in Namaqua rock rats (Micaelamys namaquensis). We characterised four complete virus genomes, which showed typical mammarenavirus organisation. Phylogenetic and genetic distance analyses revealed: (i) the presence of a significantly divergent strain of Luna virus in Angolan representatives of the ubiquitous Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis), (ii) a novel Okahandja-related virus associated with the Angolan lineage of Micaelamys namaquensis for which we propose the name Bitu virus (BITV) and (iii) the occurrence of a novel Mobala-like mammarenavirus in the grey-bellied pygmy mouse (Mus triton) for which we propose the name Kwanza virus (KWAV). This high virus diversity in a limited host sample size and in a relatively small geographical area supports the idea that Angola is a hotspot for mammarenavirus diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Vaccination with Prion Peptide-Displaying Polyomavirus-Like Particles Prolongs Incubation Time in Scrapie-Infected Mice
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 811; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13050811 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
Prion diseases like scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle or Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) in humans are fatal neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the conformational conversion of the normal, mainly α-helical cellular prion protein (PrPC) into the abnormal β-sheet rich [...] Read more.
Prion diseases like scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle or Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) in humans are fatal neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the conformational conversion of the normal, mainly α-helical cellular prion protein (PrPC) into the abnormal β-sheet rich infectious isoform PrPSc. Various therapeutic or prophylactic approaches have been conducted, but no approved therapeutic treatment is available so far. Immunisation against prions is hampered by the self-tolerance to PrPC in mammalian species. One strategy to avoid this tolerance is presenting PrP variants in virus-like particles (VLPs). Therefore, we vaccinated C57/BL6 mice with nine prion peptide variants presented by hamster polyomavirus capsid protein VP1/VP2-derived VLPs. Mice were subsequently challenged intraperitoneally with the murine RML prion strain. Importantly, one group exhibited significantly increased mean survival time of 240 days post-inoculation compared with 202 days of the control group. These data show that immunisation with VLPs presenting PrP peptides may represent a promising strategy for an effective vaccination against transmissible spongiform encephalitis agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Immunological Responses to Seoul Orthohantavirus in Experimentally and Naturally Infected Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus)
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13040665 - 12 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 480
Abstract
To clarify the mechanism of Seoul orthohantavirus (SEOV) persistence, we compared the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to SEOV in experimentally and naturally infected brown rats. Rats that were experimentally infected by the intraperitoneal route showed transient immunoglobulin M (IgM) production, followed by [...] Read more.
To clarify the mechanism of Seoul orthohantavirus (SEOV) persistence, we compared the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to SEOV in experimentally and naturally infected brown rats. Rats that were experimentally infected by the intraperitoneal route showed transient immunoglobulin M (IgM) production, followed by an increased anti-SEOV immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody response and maturation of IgG avidity. The level of SEOV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) peaked at 6 days after inoculation and the viral genome disappeared from serum. In contrast, naturally infected brown rats simultaneously had a high rate of SEOV-specific IgM and IgG antibodies (28/43). Most of the IgM-positive rats (24/27) had the SEOV genome in their lungs, suggesting that chronic SEOV infection was established in those rats. In female rats with IgG avidity maturation, the viral load in the lungs was decreased. On the other hand, there was no relationship between IgG avidity and viral load in the lungs in male rats. A CTL response was not detected in naturally infected rats. The difference between immune responses in the experimentally and naturally infected rats is associated with the establishment of chronic infection in natural hosts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Genetic Diversity of Puumala orthohantavirus in Rodents and Human Patients in Austria, 2012–2019
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13040640 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 711
Abstract
Puumala orthohantavirus (PUUV) has a wide distribution throughout Europe. Distinctive temporal patterns of spillover into the human population are related to population dynamics of the reservoir host, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). As the rodent host is tied to specific habitats [...] Read more.
Puumala orthohantavirus (PUUV) has a wide distribution throughout Europe. Distinctive temporal patterns of spillover into the human population are related to population dynamics of the reservoir host, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). As the rodent host is tied to specific habitats with small individual ranges, PUUV genetic diversity is also highly correlated with geographic distance. Using sequenced portions of viral S and M segments, we determined whether geographic clusters were supported. Human cases of PUUV infections are concentrated in southeastern Austria. We detected four distinct genotypes: two genotypes of the Alpe-Adria (ALAD) lineage typically associated with southeast Europe, and two sublineages of the Central Europe (CE) lineage. One cluster of CE genotypes represents a phylogenetically distinct sublineage compared to previously reported CE clades, and extends the boundary of the CE lineage further south than previously reported. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Seoul Virus in Pet and Feeder Rats in The Netherlands
Viruses 2021, 13(3), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13030443 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 614
Abstract
Seoul virus (SEOV) is a zoonotic orthohantavirus carried by rats. In humans, SEOV can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Recent human SEOV cases described in the USA, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands were associated with contact with pet or feeder rats. [...] Read more.
Seoul virus (SEOV) is a zoonotic orthohantavirus carried by rats. In humans, SEOV can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Recent human SEOV cases described in the USA, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands were associated with contact with pet or feeder rats. The prevalence of SEOV in these types of rats is unknown. We collected 175 pet and feeder rats (Rattus norvegicus) from private owners, ratteries and commercial breeders/traders in the Netherlands. Lung tissue of the rats was tested using a SEOV real-time RT-qPCR and heart fluid was tested for the presence of antibodies against SEOV. In all three investigated groups, RT-qPCR-positive rats were found: in 1/29 rats from private owners (3.6%), 2/56 rats from ratteries (3.4%) and 11/90 rats from commercial breeders (12.2%). The seroprevalence was largely similar to the prevalence calculated from RT-qPCR-positive rats. The SEOV sequences found were highly similar to sequences previously found in domesticated rats in Europe. In conclusion, SEOV is spread throughout different populations of domesticated rats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Interactions of Viral Proteins from Pathogenic and Low or Non-Pathogenic Orthohantaviruses with Human Type I Interferon Signaling
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010140 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Rodent-borne orthohantaviruses are asymptomatic in their natural reservoir, but they can cause severe diseases in humans. Although an exacerbated immune response relates to hantaviral pathologies, orthohantaviruses have to antagonize the antiviral interferon (IFN) response to successfully propagate in infected cells. We studied interactions [...] Read more.
Rodent-borne orthohantaviruses are asymptomatic in their natural reservoir, but they can cause severe diseases in humans. Although an exacerbated immune response relates to hantaviral pathologies, orthohantaviruses have to antagonize the antiviral interferon (IFN) response to successfully propagate in infected cells. We studied interactions of structural and nonstructural (NSs) proteins of pathogenic Puumala (PUUV), low-pathogenic Tula (TULV), and non-pathogenic Prospect Hill (PHV) viruses, with human type I and III IFN (IFN-I and IFN-III) pathways. The NSs proteins of all three viruses inhibited the RIG-I-activated IFNβ promoter, while only the glycoprotein precursor (GPC) of PUUV, or its cleavage product Gn/Gc, and the nucleocapsid (N) of TULV inhibited it. Moreover, the GPC of both PUUV and TULV antagonized the promoter of IFN-stimulated responsive elements (ISRE). Different viral proteins could thus contribute to inhibition of IFNβ response in a viral context. While PUUV and TULV strains replicated similarly, whether expressing entire or truncated NSs proteins, only PUUV encoding a wild type NSs protein led to late IFN expression and activation of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG). This, together with the identification of particular domains of NSs proteins and different biological processes that are associated with cellular proteins in complex with NSs proteins, suggested that the activation of IFN-I is probably not the only antiviral pathway to be counteracted by orthohantaviruses and that NSs proteins could have multiple inhibitory functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Mixed Effects of Habitat Degradation and Resources on Hantaviruses in Sympatric Wild Rodent Reservoirs within a Neotropical Forest
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010085 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Understanding the ecology of rodent-borne hantaviruses is critical to assessing the risk of spillover to humans. Longitudinal surveys have suggested that hantaviral prevalence in a given host population is tightly linked to rodent ecology and correlates with changes in the species composition of [...] Read more.
Understanding the ecology of rodent-borne hantaviruses is critical to assessing the risk of spillover to humans. Longitudinal surveys have suggested that hantaviral prevalence in a given host population is tightly linked to rodent ecology and correlates with changes in the species composition of a rodent community over time and/or habitat composition. We tested two hypotheses to identify whether resource addition and/or habitat composition may affect hantavirus prevalence among two sympatric reservoir hosts in a neotropical forest: (i) increased food resources will alter the rodent community and thus hantaviral prevalence; and (ii) host abundance and viral seroprevalence will be associated with habitat composition. We established a baseline of rodent–virus prevalence in three grid pairs of distinct habitat compositions and subjected one grid of each pair to resource augmentation. Increased rodent species diversity was observed on grids where food was added versus untreated control grids during the first post-treatment sampling session. Resource augmentation changed species community composition, yet it did not affect the prevalence of hantavirus in the host population over time, nor was there evidence of a dilution effect. Secondly, we show that the prevalence of the virus in the respective reservoir hosts was associated with habitat composition at two spatial levels, independent of resource addition, supporting previous findings that habitat composition is a primary driver of the prevalence of hantaviruses in the neotropics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Article
Assessing Genome-Wide Diversity in European Hantaviruses through Sequence Capture from Natural Host Samples
Viruses 2020, 12(7), 749; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12070749 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1074
Abstract
Research on the ecology and evolution of viruses is often hampered by the limitation of sequence information to short parts of the genomes or single genomes derived from cultures. In this study, we use hybrid sequence capture enrichment in combination with high-throughput sequencing [...] Read more.
Research on the ecology and evolution of viruses is often hampered by the limitation of sequence information to short parts of the genomes or single genomes derived from cultures. In this study, we use hybrid sequence capture enrichment in combination with high-throughput sequencing to provide efficient access to full genomes of European hantaviruses from rodent samples obtained in the field. We applied this methodology to Tula (TULV) and Puumala (PUUV) orthohantaviruses for which analyses from natural host samples are typically restricted to partial sequences of their tri-segmented RNA genome. We assembled a total of ten novel hantavirus genomes de novo with very high coverage (on average >99%) and sequencing depth (average >247×). A comparison with partial Sanger sequences indicated an accuracy of >99.9% for the assemblies. An analysis of two common vole (Microtus arvalis) samples infected with two TULV strains each allowed for the de novo assembly of all four TULV genomes. Combining the novel sequences with all available TULV and PUUV genomes revealed very similar patterns of sequence diversity along the genomes, except for remarkably higher diversity in the non-coding region of the S-segment in PUUV. The genomic distribution of polymorphisms in the coding sequence was similar between the species, but differed between the segments with the highest sequence divergence of 0.274 for the M-segment, 0.265 for the S-segment, and 0.248 for the L-segment (overall 0.258). Phylogenetic analyses showed the clustering of genome sequences consistent with their geographic distribution within each species. Genome-wide data yielded extremely high node support values, despite the impact of strong mutational saturation that is expected for hantavirus sequences obtained over large spatial distances. We conclude that genome sequencing based on capture enrichment protocols provides an efficient means for ecological and evolutionary investigations of hantaviruses at an unprecedented completeness and depth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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Review

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Review
Hamster Polyomavirus Research: Past, Present, and Future
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13050907 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 966
Abstract
Hamster polyomavirus (Mesocricetus auratus polyomavirus 1, HaPyV) was discovered as one of the first rodent polyomaviruses at the end of the 1960s in a colony of Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) affected by skin tumors. Natural HaPyV infections have been recorded in [...] Read more.
Hamster polyomavirus (Mesocricetus auratus polyomavirus 1, HaPyV) was discovered as one of the first rodent polyomaviruses at the end of the 1960s in a colony of Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) affected by skin tumors. Natural HaPyV infections have been recorded in Syrian hamster colonies due to the occurrence of skin tumors and lymphomas. HaPyV infections of Syrian hamsters represent an important and pioneering tumor model. Experimental infections of Syrian hamsters of different colonies are still serving as model systems (e.g., mesothelioma). The observed phylogenetic relationship of HaPyV to murine polyomaviruses within the genus Alphapolyomavirus, and the exclusive detection of other cricetid polyomaviruses, i.e., common vole (Microtus arvalis polyomavirus 1) and bank vole (Myodes glareolus polyomavirus 1) polyomaviruses, in the genus Betapolyomavirus, must be considered with caution, as knowledge of rodent-associated polyomaviruses is still limited. The genome of HaPyV shows the typical organization of polyomaviruses with an early and a late transcriptional region. The early region encodes three tumor (T) antigens including a middle T antigen; the late region encodes three capsid proteins. The major capsid protein VP1 of HaPyV was established as a carrier for the generation of autologous, chimeric, and mosaic virus-like particles (VLPs) with a broad range of applications, e.g., for the production of epitope-specific antibodies. Autologous VLPs have been applied for entry and maturation studies of dendritic cells. The generation of chimeric and mosaic VLPs indicated the high flexibility of the VP1 carrier protein for the insertion of foreign sequences. The generation of pseudotype VLPs of original VP1 and VP2–foreign protein fusion can further enhance the applicability of this system. Future investigations should evaluate the evolutionary origin of HaPyV, monitor its occurrence in wildlife and Syrian hamster breeding, and prove its value for the generation of potential vaccine candidates and as a gene therapy vehicle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rodent-Borne Viruses)
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