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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 1980; 77(5): 2941–2945.
PMCID: PMC349522

A virus in Beechey ground squirrels that is related to hepatitis B virus of humans.


A virus given the name ground squirrel hepatitis virus (or GSHV), with many of the unique characteristics of human hepatitis B virus (HBV), has been found in Beechey ground squirrels in northern California. Common features include virus morphology, viral DNA size and structure, a virion DNA polymerase that repairs a single-stranded region in the viral DNA, crossreacting viral antigens, and persistent infection with viral antigen continuously in the blood. Although similar, GSHV and HBV Are not identical. The ground squirrel virion has a slightly greater diameter, the viral surface antigens crossreact only partially and, thus, are not identical, and GSHV DNA has two restriction endonuclease EcoRI cleavage sites in contrast to the single site in HBV DNA. Thus, GSHV is a member of the virus group that includes HBV and the virus recently found in woodchucks in the eastern United States and named woodchuck hepatitis virus. It is not yet known how closely the ground squirrel and woodchuck viruses are related.

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