Chevrier’s Field Mouse (Apodemus chevrieri) and Père David’s Vole (Eothenomys melanogaster) in China Carry Orthohepeviruses that form Two Putative Novel Genotypes Within the Species Orthohepevirus C
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the prototype of the family Hepeviridae and the causative agent of common acute viral hepatitis. Genetically diverse HEV-related viruses have been detected in a variety of mammals and some of them may have zoonotic potential. In this study, we tested 278 specimens collected from seven wild small mammal species in Yunnan province, China, for the presence and prevalence of orthohepevirus by broad-spectrum reverse transcription (RT)-PCR. HEV-related sequences were detected in two rodent species, including Chevrier’s field mouse (Apodemus chevrieri, family Muridae) and Père David’s vole (Eothenomys melanogaster, family Cricetidae), with the infection rates of 29.20% (59/202) and 7.27% (4/55), respectively. Further four representative full-length genomes were generated: two each from Chevrier’s field mouse (named RdHEVAc14 and RdHEVAc86) and Père David’s vole (RdHEVEm40 and RdHEVEm67). Phylogenetic analyses and pairwise distance comparisons of whole genome sequences and amino acid sequences of the gene coding regions showed that orthohepeviruses identified in Chinese Chevrier’s field mouse and Père David’s vole belonged to the species Orthohepevirus C but were highly divergent from the two assigned genotypes: HEV-C1 derived from rat and shrew, and HEV-C2 derived from ferret and possibly mink. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR demonstrated that these newly discovered orthohepeviruses had hepatic tropism. In summary, our work discovered two putative novel genotypes orthohepeviruses preliminarily named HEV-C3 and HEV-C4 within the species Orthohepevirus C, which expands our understanding of orthohepevirus infection in the order Rodentia and gives new insights into the origin, evolution, and host range of orthohepevirus.
KeywordsHepatitis E virus (HEV) Orthohepevirus Genetic diversity Complete genome Chevrier’s field mouse Père David’s vole
This work was jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81660558, 81260437, and 81290341), a Scientific and Technological Basis Special Project grant (2013FY113500) from the Ministry of Science and Technology of PR China, and Yunnan Provincial Collaborative Innovation Centre for Public Health and Disease Prevention and Control (2015YNPHXT05). B.W. is supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), Beijing, China. We thank Dominik Harms for critical reading of our manuscript.
YZZ and XLY designed and coordinated the study. YZZ, JHZ, WHY, HP and LXW collected samples. XLY, BW, LW, BL and WZ performed molecular studies. BW and XLY analysed the data. XLY, BW, ZLS, YZZ and CTB drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Animal and Human Rights Statement
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Yunnan Institute of Endemic Diseases Control and Prevention. Sampling procedures were performed following the guidelines and protocols for the Laboratory Animal Use and Care from the Chinese Centres for Disease Control and the Rules for the Implementation of Laboratory Animal Medicine (1998) from the Ministry of Health, China.
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