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mSphere. 2016 Dec 21;1(6). pii: e00334-16. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00334-16. eCollection 2016 Nov-Dec.

Identification and Characterization of Novel Rat Polyomavirus 2 in a Colony of X-SCID Rats by P-PIT assay.

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Division of Laboratory Animal Resources, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cancer Virology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cancer Virology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Polyomaviruses (PyVs) are known to infect a wide range of vertebrates and invertebrates and are associated with a broad spectrum of diseases, including cancers, particularly in immune-suppressed hosts. A novel polyomavirus, designated rat polyomavirus 2 (RatPyV2), was identified from a breeding colony of rats having X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. Using a human panpolyomavirus immunohistochemistry test (P-PIT), RatPyV2 was initially detected in the parotid salivary gland of a colony member. Rolling circle amplification using DNA from harderian and parotid glands identified a novel 5.1-kb polyomavirus genome closely related to human Washington University (WU) and Karolinska Institute (KI) and vole polyomaviruses but notably divergent from Rattus norvegicus PyV1 (RnorPyV1; also designated RatPyV1). Further screening showed RatPyV2 inclusion body infection in the lung epithelium and variably in other respiratory, reproductive, and glandular tissues of 12/12 (100%) rats. IMPORTANCE Although P-PIT was developed to detect diseases associated with known human polyomaviruses, the identification of a new polyomavirus in rats suggests that it may have utility as a broad-based screen for new, as well as known polyomaviruses. Our findings suggest that RatPyV2 may be a commensal infection of laboratory rats that can lead to disseminated disease in T cell immune-deficient rats. Infection of the X-SCID rats with RatPyV2 and Pneumocystis carinii is a potential model for coinfection pathogenesis and treatment options during transplant preclinical studies.


KIV; P-PIT; WUV; X-SCID; epitheliotropism; immune suppression; inclusion body; laboratory animals; polyomavirus; simian virus 40

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