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Virology. 1999 Sep 30;262(2):470-8.

Toward a surrogate model for hepatitis C virus: An infectious molecular clone of the GB virus-B hepatitis agent.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892-0740, USA.


GB virus-B (GBV-B) is a member of the Flaviviridae family of viruses. This RNA virus infects tamarins, but its natural host is not known. GBV-B has special interest because it is the virus that is most closely related to hepatitis C virus (HCV), an important human pathogen. In the present study, we identified a previously unrecognized sequence at the 3' end of the GBV-B genome. This new 3' terminal sequence can form several predicted stem-loop structures as is typical for other members of the Flaviviridae family. We constructed molecular clones and showed that the new 3' UTR sequence was critical for in vivo infectivity. After intrahepatic transfection of two tamarins with RNA transcripts of the full-length GBV-B clone, we detected high viral titers from Week 1 postinoculation with peak titers of approximately 10(8) genome equivalents/ml. The viremic pattern of GBV-B infection in the transfected animals was the same as in animals inoculated intravenously with the virus pool used as the cloning source. The sequence of the recombinant virus was recovered from one of the tamarins and shown to be identical to that of the infectious clone. The development of severe hepatitis in both tamarins infected with the recombinant GBV-B virus provides formal proof that GBV-B is a true hepatitis virus.

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