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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1992 Nov 30;189(1):119-27.

Characterization of hypervariable regions in the putative envelope protein of hepatitis C virus.

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Virology Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.


We previously identified two hypervariable regions [HVR1 (27 amino acids) and HVR2 (7 amino acids)] in the putative envelope glycoprotein (gp70) by comparison of the amino acid sequences of many isolates of the HCV-II genotype. To understand the functional features of these HVRs, using the polymerase chain reaction we analyzed the rate of actual sequence variability in the region including HVR1 and HVR2 of HCV isolated successively at intervals of several months from two patients with chronic C-type hepatitis. In both patients, the amino acid sequence of HVR1, but not HVR2, was found to change dramatically during the observation period (about one amino acid per month). However, no alteration of the amino acid sequence of HVR1 of HCV was observed in a patient in the acute phase of chronic hepatitis. Restriction digestion analysis of sequence diversity showed that a HCV genome with a newly introduced mutation in HVR1 often became the predominant population at the next time of examination. Alterations of amino acids in HVR1 occurred sequentially in the two patients in the chronic phase. These findings suggest that mutations in HVR1 are involved in the mechanism of persistent chronic HCV infection.

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