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J Virol. 1991 Apr;65(4):2056-65.

Antigenic and genetic variation in cytopathic hepatitis A virus variants arising during persistent infection: evidence for genetic recombination.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7030.


Variants of hepatitis A virus (pHM175 virus) recovered from persistently infected green monkey kidney (BS-C-1) cells induced a cytopathic effect during serial passage in BS-C-1 or fetal rhesus kidney (FRhK-4) cells. Epitope-specific radioimmunofocus assays showed that this virus comprised two virion populations, one with altered antigenicity including neutralization resistance to monoclonal antibody K24F2, and the other with normal antigenic characteristics. Replication of the antigenic variant was favored over that of virus with the normal antigenic phenotype during persistent infection, while virus with the normal antigenic phenotype was selected during serial passage. Viruses of each type were clonally isolated; both were cytopathic in cell cultures and displayed a rapid replication phenotype when compared with the noncytopathic passage 16 (p16) HM175 virus which was used to establish the original persistent infection. The two cytopathic virus clones contained 31 and 34 nucleotide changes from the sequence of p16 HM175. Both shared a common 5' sequence (bases 30 to 1677), as well as sequence identity in the P2-P3 region (bases 3249 to 5303 and 6462 to 6781) and 3' terminus (bases 7272 to 7478). VP3, VP1, and 3Cpro contained different mutations in the two virus clones, with amino acid substitutions at residues 70 of VP3 and 197 and 276 of VP1 of the antigenic variant. These capsid mutations did not affect virion thermal stability. A comparison of the nearly complete genomic sequences of three clonally isolated cytopathic variants was suggestive of genetic recombination between these viruses during persistent infection and indicated that mutations in both 5' and 3' nontranslated regions and in the nonstructural proteins 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, and 3Dpol may be related to the cytopathic phenotype.

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