Isolation and genomic characterization of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus in ticks from northeastern China.
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a rodent-borne arenavirus that is considered a neglected cause of neurologic diseases in humans. In this study, we described genomic characterization of newly isolated LCMVs in Haemaphysalis longicornis, Dermacentor nuttalli, Dermacentor silvarum and Ixodes persulcatus in Jilin Province, northeastern China. The complete sequences of the small (S) and large (L) segments of LCMVs in ticks contained 3,375 and 7,235-7,241 nucleotides, respectively. Sequence comparison showed 82.1%-86.0% identity of S segment with other lineage I strains at the nucleotide level and 91.2%-97.5% at the deduced amino acid level, while a lower identity was observed in the L segment at both nucleotide (75.4%-82.2%) and amino acid (82.4%-93.4%) levels. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the tick LCMVs together with the lineage I strains, but in an isolated cluster with a high bootstrap value. Bayesian analysis indicated that the molecular evolutionary rate was estimated to be 3.3×10-4 substitutions/site/year for the S segment and 6.3×10-4 substitutions/site/year for the L segment, and the time to most recent common ancestor was 1980 and 1970 years ago, respectively, showing that tick LCMVs were predicted to originate between 1970s and 1980s. A long evolutionary history and high prevalence of LCMV in H. longicornis were found compared to other tick species. This study represented the first report on isolation of LCMV in China, showing that LCMV is circulating among ticks in Jilin Province, but the role of ticks in the epidemiology of LCMV remains to be explored.