Identification of a Novel Hepacivirus in Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) from Shaanxi, China
- Received Date: 28 July 2021
- Accepted Date: 10 October 2021
- Published Date: 05 November 2021
Abstract: Hepaciviruses, members of the family Flaviviridae, are enveloped viruses containing a single-stranded positive-sense RNA genome of approximately 8.9–10.5 kb in size (Simmonds et al. 2017). To date, 15 species (Hepacivirus A–N, and P) have been documented within the Hepacivirus genus that show distinct host ranges, including primates, bats, horses, donkeys, cows, and various rodents (Hartlage et al. 2016). Seven rodent-associated hepaciviruses have been characterized, including hepacivirus E, I, G and H infecting rodents of Muridae, hepacivirus F and J infecting rodents of Cricetidae (de Souza et al. 2019), and heapcivirus P infecting rodents of Xerinae (Li et al. 2019). Additional unclassified rodent hapaciviruses have been described in diverse rodents from Dormouse, Echimyidae, Heteromyidae, and Spalacidae. Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) are small rodents belonging to the family Muridae and are widely distributed in the desert grasslands and steppes of northern China, Mongolia, and Russia (Liu et al. 2007). They have been reported as a major host of Yersinia pestis causing plagues in China in recent decades (Riehm et al. 2011). Moreover, Mongolian gerbil is known to be susceptible to various viruses and is a commonly used animal model for virus research (Li et al. 2009). Despite this, the natural virome of wild Meriones unguiculatus has not been described. Herein, we reported the first hepacivirus detected in Mongolian gerbils captured in Dingbian County of Shaanxi Province, one of the plague zones in China.