Hantaan (HTN) virus, the etiologic agent of clinically severe hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), was first isolated in 1976 from lung tissue of a striped-field mouse (Apodemus agrarius) captured in Songnae-ri, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea. Found primarily in mountainous areas, the Korean field mouse (A. peninsulae) is the second-most dominant field rodent species found throughout Korea. A new hantavirus, designated Soochong (SOO), was isolated in Vero E6 cells from four A. peninsulae captured in August 1997 at Mt. Gyebang in Hongcheon-gun, Mt. Gachil, Inje-gun, Gangwon Province, and in September 1998 at Mt. Deogyu, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk Province. The entire S, M, and L genomic segments of SOO virus, amplified by RT-PCR from lung tissues of seropositive A. peninsulae and from virus-infected Vero E6 cells, diverged from HTN virus (strain 76-118) by 15.6%, 22.8%, and 21.7% at the nucleotide level and 3.5%, 9.5%, and 4.6% at the amino acid level, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses of the nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences, using the maximum parsimony and neighbor-joining methods, indicated that SOO virus was distinct from A. agrarius-borne HTN virus. SOO virus shared a common ancestry with Amur virus from Far East Russia, as well as with H5 and B78 hantaviruses, previously isolated from HFRS patients in China. Cross-focus-reduction neutralizating antibody tests showed that SOO virus, which is the first hantavirus isolated in cell culture from A. peninsulae, could be classified as a new hantavirus serotype.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.