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Virus Res. 2007 Aug;127(2):151-7. Epub 2007 Feb 27.

Genetic variability and molecular evolution of hepatitis A virus.

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Laboratorio de Virología Molecular, Centro de Investigaciones Nucleares, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay.


Hepatitis A virus (HAV), the causative agent of type A viral hepatitis, was first identified about three decades ago. Recent findings have shown that HAV possess several characteristics that make it unique among the family Picornaviridae, particularly in terms of its mechanisms of polyprotein processing and virion morphogenesis. HAV circulates in vivo as distributions of closely genetically related variants referred to as quasispecies. HAV exploits all known mechanisms of genetic variation to ensure its survival, including mutation and recombination. Only one serotype and six different genetic groups (three humans and three simian) have been described. HAV mutation rate is significantly lower as compared to other members of the family Picornaviridae. The mode of evolution appears, at least in part, to contribute to the presence of only one known serotype.

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