Comparative study of murid gammaherpesvirus 4 infection in mice and in a natural host, bank voles

J Gen Virol. 2010 Oct;91(Pt 10):2553-63. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.023481-0. Epub 2010 Jun 9.


Gammaherpesviruses are archetypal pathogenic persistent viruses. The known human gammaherpesviruses (Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus) are host-specific and therefore lack a convenient in vivo infection model. This makes related animal gammaherpesviruses an important source of information. Infection by murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV-4), a virus originally isolated from bank voles (Myodes glareolus), was studied here. MuHV-4 infection of inbred laboratory mouse strains (Mus musculus) is commonly used as a general model of gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. However, MuHV-4 has not been isolated from house mice, and no systematic comparison has been made between experimental MuHV-4 infections of mice and bank voles. This study therefore characterized MuHV-4 (strain MHV-68) infection of bank voles through global luciferase imaging and classical virological methods. As in mice, intranasal virus inoculation led to productive replication in bank vole lungs, accompanied by massive cellular infiltrates. However, the extent of lytic virus replication was approximately 1000-fold lower in bank voles than in mice. Peak latency titres in lymphoid tissue were also lower, although latency was still established. Finally, virus transmission was tested between animals maintained in captivity. However, as observed in mice, MuHV-4 was not transmitted between voles under these conditions. In conclusion, this study revealed that, despite quantitative differences, replication and the latency sites of MuHV-4 are comparable in bank voles and mice. Therefore, it appears that, so far, Mus musculus represents a suitable host for studying gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis with MuHV-4. Establishing transmission conditions in captivity will be a vital step for further research in this field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Arvicolinae
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / transmission
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / virology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy
  • Rhadinovirus / pathogenicity*
  • Rodent Diseases / pathology*
  • Rodent Diseases / transmission
  • Rodent Diseases / virology
  • Spleen / virology
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Latency
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Luciferases