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J Gen Virol. 2002 Aug;83(Pt 8):2059-73.

Genotype H: a new Amerindian genotype of hepatitis B virus revealed in Central America.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, SE-171 82 Stockholm, Sweden.


The complete genomes were sequenced for ten hepatitis B virus (HBV) strains. Two of them, from Spain and Sweden, were most similar to genotype D, although encoding d specificity. Five of them were from Central America and belonged to genotype F. Two strains from Nicaragua and one from Los Angeles, USA, showed divergences of 3.1-4.1% within the small S gene from genotype F strains and were recognized previously as a divergent clade within genotype F. The complete genomes of the two genotype D strains were found to differ from published genotype D strains by 2.8-4.6%. Their S genes encoded Lys(122), Thr(127) and Lys(160), corresponding to the putative new subtype adw3 within this genotype, previously known to specify ayw2, ayw3 or, rarely, ayw4. The complete genomes of the three divergent strains diverged by 0.8-2.5% from each other, 7.2-10.2% from genotype F strains and 13.2-15.7% from other HBV strains. Since pairwise comparisons of 82 complete HBV genomes of intratypic and intertypic divergences ranged from 0.1 to 7.4% and 6.8 to 17.1%, respectively, the three sequenced strains should represent a new HBV genotype, for which the designation H is proposed. In the polymerase region, the three strains had 16 unique conserved amino acid residues not present in genotype F strains. So far, genotype H has been encountered in Nicaragua, Mexico and California. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete genomes and subgenomes of the three strains showed them clustering with genotype F but forming a separate branch supported by 100% bootstrap. Being most similar to genotype F, known to be an Amerindian genotype, genotype H has most likely split off from genotype F within the New World.

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