Main content area

Molecular analysis of hepatitis E virus from farm rabbits in Inner Mongolia, China and its successful propagation in A549 and PLC/PRF/5 cells

Jirintai, Suljid, Jinshan,, Tanggis,, Manglai, Dugarjavin, Mulyanto,, Takahashi, Masaharu, Nagashima, Shigeo, Kobayashi, Tominari, Nishizawa, Tsutomu, Okamoto, Hiroaki
Virus research 2012 v.170 no.1-2 pp. 126-137
rabbits, Orthohepevirus A, host range, human cell lines, risk, liver, antibodies, farms, phylogeny, nucleotide sequences, RNA, France, China
Rabbit hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains have recently been isolated in several areas of China and in the US and France. However, the host range, distribution and zoonotic potential of these HEV strains remain unknown and their propagation in cultured cells has not yet been reported. A total of 211 4-month-old rabbits raised on a farm in Inner Mongolia were tested for the presence of anti-HEV antibodies and HEV RNA. Overall, 121 rabbits (57.3%) tested positive for anti-HEV antibodies, and 151 (71.6%) had detectable HEV RNA. The 174 HEV strains recovered from these viremic rabbits, including two distinct strains each from 23 rabbits, differed from each other by up to 13.6% in a 412-nucleotide (nt) sequence within ORF2, and were 89.3–95.9% identical to the reported rabbit HEV strains in other provinces of China. Three representative Inner Mongolian strains, one each from three phylogenetic clusters, whose entire genomic sequences were determined, shared 79.6–96.7% identities with reported rabbit HEV strains within the entire or 242- to 1349-nt partial genomic sequence. Rabbit HEV strains recovered from liver tissues of rabbits with a high HEV load propagated efficiently in human cell lines (A549 and PLC/PRF/5 cells), suggesting the potential zoonotic risk of rabbit HEV.