Although based on very limited M and L segment sequences, Artybash virus (ARTV) was proposed previously as a unique hantavirus harbored by the Laxmann's shrew (Sorex caecutiens). To verify this conjecture, lung tissues from 68 Laxmann's shrews, captured during 2006 to 2014 in eastern Siberia, Russia, and Hokkaido, Japan, were analyzed for ARTV RNA using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). ARTV RNA was detected in six Laxmann's shrews. Pairwise alignment and comparison of partial- and full-length S, M, and L segment sequences from these Laxmann's shrews, as well as phylogenetic analyses, using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods indicated that ARTV was distinct from other soricine shrew-borne hantaviruses and representative hantaviruses harbored by rodents, moles, and bats. Taxonomic identity of the ARTV-infected Laxmann's shrews was confirmed by full-length cytochrome b mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis. Our data indicate that the hantavirus previously known as Amga virus (MGAV) represents genetic variants of ARTV. Thus, the previously proposed designation of ARTV/MGAV should be replaced by ARTV.
Keywords: Hantavirus; Japan; RT-PCR; Russia; Shrew..