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J Med Virol. 2006 Sep;78(9):1175-84.

Identification of hepatitis B virus subgenotype A3 in rural Gabon.

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Laboratoire de Rétrovirologie, Centre International de Recherches Médicales, CIRMF, Franceville, Gabon.


An hepatitis B virus (HBV) molecular survey was conducted in five remote villages in the equatorial forest in Gabon, Central Africa. Two hundred seventy out of 311 inhabitants (86.8%) were HBV-infected or had evidence of past HBV infection. Chronic hepatitis corresponding to hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positivity was suspected in 27 (8.6%) of the HBV-infected subjects. High HBV viral loads were detected mainly in children aged 4-7 years. The pre-S/S domains were sequenced in 13 cases and 12 strains belonged to HBV-A genotype. In one case we found evidence for recombination between genotypes A and E. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that Gabonese HBV strains were distinct from HBV-A subgenotypes (A1 and A2). These new HBV strains from Gabon clustered with previously reported HBV-A3 subgenotype strains from Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo. The analysis of the pre-S2 domain allowed us to determine two amino acid substitutions (N/152/S and N/174/T) specific to the Central African HBV-A3 subgenotype strains and one amino acid substitution (P/155/Q) unique to these new Gabonese HBV-A3 subgenotype isolates. Two full genome sequences of two new Gabonese HBV isolates are also presented and confirm the distinctive HBV-Gab-A3 cluster.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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