Phodopus sungorus papillomavirus type 1 (PsuPV1), naturally infecting Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) and clustering in the genus Pipapillomavirus (Pi-PV), is only the second PV type isolated from the subfamily of hamsters. In silico analysis of three independent complete viral genomes obtained from cervical adenocarcinoma, oral squamous cell carcinoma and normal oral mucosa revealed that PsuPV1 encodes characteristic viral proteins (E1, E2, E4, E6, E7, L1 and L2) with conserved functional domains and a highly conserved non-coding region. The overall high prevalence (102/114; 89.5 %) of PsuPV1 infection in normal oral and anogenital mucosa suggests that asymptomatic infection with PsuPV1 is very frequent in healthy Siberian hamsters from an early age onward, and that the virus is often transmitted between both anatomical sites. Using type-specific real-time PCR and chromogenic in situ hybridization, the presence of PsuPV1 was additionally detected in several investigated tumours (cervical adenocarcinoma, cervical adenomyoma, vaginal carcinoma in situ, ovarian granulosa cell tumour, mammary ductal carcinoma, oral fibrosarcoma, hibernoma and squamous cell papilloma) and normal tissues of adult animals. In the tissue sample of the oral squamous cell carcinoma individual, punctuated PsuPV1-specific in situ hybridization spots were detected within the nuclei of infected animal cells, suggesting viral integration into the host genome and a potential etiological association of PsuPV1 with sporadic cases of this neoplasm.
Keywords: Phodopus sungorus papillomavirus type 1 (PsuPV1); Siberian hamsters; asymptomatic viral infections; oral squamous cell carcinoma.