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Identification of an Astrovirus Commonly Infecting Laboratory Mice in the US and Japan
Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Author: Terry Fei Fan Ng et al.

by Terry Fei Fan Ng, Nikola O. Kondov, Nobuhito Hayashimoto, Ritsuki Uchida, Yunhee Cha, Ashley I. Beyer, Walt Wong, Patricia A. Pesavento, Hiroshi Suemizu, Marcus O. Muench, Eric Delwart

Mice (Mus musculus) are the most commonly used laboratory animals. Viral metagenomics on tissues of immunodeficient mice revealed sequences of a novel mammalian astrovirus. Using PCR, we screened mice from 4 breeders, 4 pharmaceutical companies, 14 research institutes and 30 universities in the US and Japan. Mice from one US breeder tested positive while none from Japanese breeders were positive for MuAstV. Mice in over half of the universities (19/30), institutes (7/14) and pharmaceutical animal facilities (2/4) investigated revealed the presence of MuAstV. Nine mice strains tested positive including both immunodeficient strains (NSG, NOD-SCID, NSG-3GS, C57BL6-Timp-3-/-, and uPA-NOG) and immunocompetent strains (B6J, ICR, Bash2, BALB/c). Our data indicates that MuAstV has a wide geographical, institutional and host strain distribution. Comparison of the MuAstV RdRp sequences showed numerous mutations indicating ongoing viral divergence in different facilities. This study demonstrates the need for metagenomic screening of laboratory animals to identify adventitious infections that may affect experimental outcomes.