A DNA virus with the characteristics of a herpesvirus has been isolated from woodchuck hepatocytes cultured . We refer to this virus as herpesvirus of marmots (HVM). Electron microscopy of thin sections of HVM-infected cells showed nucleocapsids with a hexagonal outline and a diameter of 80 nm. Enveloped virions were seen in cytoplasmic vacuoles and outside the cell. Negatively stained virus particles purified from cell supernatants were enveloped with the characteristic appearance of herpesviruses. The DNA was double-stranded with a molecular size of approximately 140 kb and a G+C content of 73%. The virus replicated with a lytic effect in kidney cells of owl monkeys and African green monkeys, baby hamster kidney cells, feline kidney cells and WCH-17, a cell line derived from a woodchuck hepatoma. An indirect immunofluorescence assay has shown the presence of antibody to HVM in seven out of 37 animals tested. An important reason for studying HVM lies in its possible role in infection or the disease produced by woodchuck hepatitis virus, an animal model for human hepatitis B virus.


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