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Rev Med Virol. 2002 May-Jun;12(3):133-41.

Primate hepatitis B viruses - genetic diversity, geography and evolution.

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Division of Viral Hepatitis A33, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


There are six well characterised genotypes (A-F) of human hepatitis B virus that have distinct geographic ranges which generally relate to chronic HBV infection. A seventh human genotype (G) has recently been described, but there is limited information on ethnic and geographic distribution. Despite the fact that early studies indicated that HBV antigens were present in other primates, the prevailing dogma that HBV was a human disease precluded alternative explanations. Within the past 5 years, hepatitis B viruses have been characterised from all the Old World great apes (orangutan, gibbons, gorillas and chimpanzees) and from a New World woolly monkey. Each group of non-human primates appears to have a distinct strain of hepatitis B virus that can be distinguished from human sequences based upon the nucleotide sequence and selected amino acid changes in the viral proteins. The woolly monkey HBV is most divergent from other primate and human sequences, while the great ape HBV sequences cluster together with separate branches for each group.

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