Characterization of the eukaryotic virome of mice from different sources

Chunye Zhang, Matt Burch, Kristine Wylie, Brandi Herter, Craig L. Franklin, Aaron C. Ericsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Accumulating studies show that the host microbiome influences the development or progression of many diseases. The eukaryotic virome, as a key component of the microbiome, plays an important role in host health and disease in humans and animals, including research animals designed to model human disease. To date, the majority of research on the microbiome has focused on bacterial populations, while less attention has been paid to the viral component. Members of the eukaryotic virome interact with the commensal bacterial microbiome through transkingdom interactions, and influence host immunity and disease phenotypes as a collective microbial ecosystem. As such, differences in the virome may affect the reproducibility of animal models, and supplementation of the virome may enhance the translatability of animal models of human disease. However, there are minimal empirical data regarding differences in the virome of mice from different commercial sources. Our hypotheses were that the mice obtained from pet store sources and lab mice differ in their eukaryotic virome, and that lab mice from different sources would also have different viromes. To test this hypothesis, the ViroCap platform was used to characterize the eukaryotic virome in multiple tissues of mice from different sources including three sources of laboratory mice and two pet stores. As expected, pet store mice harbored a much greater diversity within the virome compared to lab mice. This included an ostensibly novel norovirus strain identified in one source of these mice. Viruses found in both laboratory and pet store populations included four strains of endogenous retroviruses and murine astrovirus with the latter being restricted to one source of lab mice. Considering the relatively high richness virome within different samples from healthy humans, these data suggest that mouse models from alternative sources may be more translational to the human condition. Moreover, these data demonstrate that, by characterizing the eukaryotic murine virome from different sources, novel viruses may be identified for use as field strains in biomedical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2064
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Gut microbiome
  • Laboratory mice
  • Novel virus
  • Pet store mice
  • Reproducibility
  • Translatability
  • Virome


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