Diverse picornaviruses are prevalent among free-living and laboratory rats (Rattus norvegicus) in Hungary and can cause disseminated infections

Ákos Boros, Katalin Orlovácz, Péter Pankovics, Sándor Szekeres, Gábor Földvári, Elizabeth Fahsbender, Eric Delwart, Gábor Reuter

Research output: Article

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In this study, the full length genomes of three phylogenetically distant picornaviruses (family Picornaviridae) belonging to the genus Rosavirus (rat08/rRoB/HUN, MN116648), Kobuvirus (rat08/rAiA/HUN, MN116647), and Cardiovirus (rat08/rCaB/HUN, MN116646) were obtained from a single faecal sample of a free-living Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) in Hungary using viral metagenomics and RT-PCR/Sanger sequencing. The acquired complete genomes were in silico analyzed in detail revealing the presence of a second minor open reading frame encoding an alternative Leader peptide (L*) in rat08/rCaB/HUN and a ca. 222 nt-long sequence repeat with compact secondary RNA structure in the 3′ UTR of rat08/rRoB/HUN. The studied rat picornaviruses were frequently detectable by RT-PCR with relatively high viral loads ranged between 8.99E+02 and 1.29E+06 copies/ml in rat faecal samples collected from five geographically distant locations throughout Hungary. The VP1 sequence-based phylogenetic analyses show the presence of multiple, mostly location-specific lineages for all three picornaviruses. Rat rosavirus and rat cardiovirus were identified in spleen while rat cardiovirus was also detected in liver, muscle and kidney samples with variable copy numbers (6.42E+01–1.90E+05 copies/μg total RNA) suggesting extra-intestinal dissemination. Both viruses were also prevalent (70.0% and 18.2%) among two populations of laboratory rats (“Wistar-type” and “hooded-type”) held in different, isolated laboratory animal units.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103988
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - nov. 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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