Long-term infection and vertical transmission of a gammaretrovirus in a foreign host species

Toshie Sakuma, Jason M. Tonne, Jessica A. Malcolm, Tayaramma Thatava, Seiga Ohmine, Kah Whye Peng, Yasuhiro Ikeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence has indicated natural transspecies transmission of gammaretroviruses; however, viral-host interactions after initial xeno-exposure remain poorly understood. Potential association of xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in patients with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome has attracted broad interests in this topic. Although recent studies have indicated that XMRV is unlikely a human pathogen, further understanding of XMRV xenoinfection would allow in vivo modeling of the initial steps of gammaretroviral interspecies transmission, evolution and dissemination in a new host population. In this study, we monitored the long-term consequences of XMRV infection and its possible vertical transmission in a permissive foreign host, wild-derived Mus pahari mice. One year post-infection, XMRV-infected mice showed no notable pathological changes, while proviral DNA was detected in three out of eight mice. XMRV-infected mice remained seropositive throughout the study although the levels of gp70 Env- and p30 capsid-specific antibodies gradually decreased. When vertical XMRV transmission was assessed, no viremia, humoral immune responses nor endogenization were observed in nine offspring from infected mothers, yet one offspring was found PCR-positive for XMRV-specific sequences. Amplified viral sequences from the offspring showed several mutations, including one amino acid deletion in the receptor binding domain of Env SU. Our results therefore demonstrate long-term asymptomatic infection, low incidence of vertical transmission and limited evolution of XMRV upon transspecies infection of a permissive new host, Mus pahari.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere29682
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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