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J Med Virol. 2000 Mar;60(3):275-83.

Cloning, sequencing, and expression of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) nonstructural open reading frame 1 (ORF1).

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Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes enterically transmitted epidemic and sporadic viral hepatitis affecting millions of people in the developing world. Different geographical isolates of HEV show a high degree of homology at the nucleotide and amino acid levels. The approximately 7.2 kb RNA genome has three open reading frames of which ORF1 is predicted to code for the viral nonstructural polyprotein. The expression, processing and properties of the nonstructural ORF1 polyprotein have not been reported so far. In this study, the complete HEV ORF1 was reconstructed from overlapping fragments amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of total RNA isolated from the bile fluid of a rhesus monkey experimentally infected with HEV isolate from an epidemic. The complete assembled ORF1 was sequenced using HEV specific primers. The ORF1 polyprotein was expressed in E. coli, in a cell free translation system and in HepG2 cells, and was characterized by western blotting and immunoprecipitation using acute phase patient serum as well as polyclonal antibodies raised against defined parts of the ORF1 polyprotein. The nonstructural polyprotein of HEV was expressed as a 186 kDa protein. No processing was observed into discrete units, either in-vitro based on a kinetic analysis, or in HepG2 cells based on immunoprecipitation.

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