Two novel gammaherpesviruses were isolated, one from a field vole (Microtus agrestis) and the other from wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). The genome of the latter, designated wood mouse herpesvirus (WMHV), was completely sequenced. WMHV had the same genome structure and predicted gene content as murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV4; murine gammaherpesvirus 68). Overall nucleotide sequence identity between WMHV and MuHV4 was 85% and most of the 10 kb region at the left end of the unique region was particularly highly conserved, especially the viral tRNA-like sequences and the coding regions of genes M1 and M4. The partial sequence (71 913 bp) of another gammaherpesvirus, Brest herpesvirus (BRHV), which was isolated ostensibly from a white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula), was also determined. The BRHV sequence was 99.2% identical to the corresponding portion of the WMHV genome. Thus, WMHV and BRHV appeared to be strains of a new virus species. Biological characterization of WMHV indicated that it grew with similar kinetics to MuHV4 in cell culture. The pathogenesis of WMHV in wood mice was also extremely similar to that of MuHV4, except for the absence of inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue at day 14 post-infection and a higher load of latently infected cells at 21 days post-infection.
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