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Murine cytomegalovirus is not restricted to the house mouse Mus musculus domesticus: prevalence and genetic diversity in the European house mouse hybrid zone



Murine cytomegalovirus is not restricted to the house mouse Mus musculus domesticus: prevalence and genetic diversity in the European house mouse hybrid zone



Journal of Virology 89(1): 406-414



Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is a betaherpesvirus of the house mouse, Mus musculus domesticus. It is a common infectious agent of wild mice and a highly studied pathogen of the laboratory mouse. Betaherpesviruses are specific to their hosts, and it is not known if other Mus taxa carry MCMV or if it is restricted to M. m. domesticus. We sampled mice over a 145-km transect of Bavaria-Bohemia crossing a hybrid zone between M. m. domesticus and Mus musculus musculus in order to investigate the occurrence of MCMV in two Mus subspecies and to test the limits of the specificity of the virus for its host. We hypothesized that if the two subspecies carry MCMV and if the virus is highly specific to its host, divergent MCMV lineages would have codiverged with their hosts and would have a geographical distribution constrained by the host genetic background. A total of 520 mice were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and/or nested PCR targeting the M94 gene. Seropositive and PCR-positive individuals were found in both Mus subspecies. Seroprevalence was high, at 79.4%, but viral DNA was detected in only 41.7% of mice. Sequencing revealed 20 haplotypes clustering in 3 clades that match the host genetic structure in the hybrid zone, showing 1 and 2 MCMV lineages in M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus, respectively. The estimated time to the most recent common ancestor (1.1 million years ago [Mya]) of the MCMVs matches that of their hosts. In conclusion, MCMV has coevolved with these hosts, suggesting that its diversity in nature may be underappreciated, since other members of the subgenus Mus likely carry different MCMVs. Murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is a betaherpesvirus of the house mouse, Mus musculus domesticus, an important lab model for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. The majority of lab studies are based on only two strains of MCMVs isolated from M. m. domesticus, Smith and K181, the latter derived from repeated passage of Smith in mouse submaxillary glands. The presence of MCMV in other members of the Mus subgenus had not even been investigated. By screening mouse samples collected in the European house mouse hybrid zone between M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus, we show that MCMV is not restricted to the M. m. domesticus subspecies and that MCMVs likely codiverged with their Mus hosts. Thus, the diversity of MCMV in nature may be seriously underappreciated, since other members of the subgenus Mus likely carry their own MCMV lineages.

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Accession: 054508461

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25320317

DOI: 10.1128/jvi.02466-14


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