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Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Mar;11(2):496-503. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2010.12.015. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Evolutionary history of hepatitis C virus genotype 5a in France, a multicenter ANRS study.

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CHU de Clermont-Ferrand, Centre de Biologie, Laboratoire de Virologie, F-63003 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The epidemic history of HCV genotype 5a is poorly documented in France, where its prevalence is very low, except in a small central area, where it accounts for 14.2% of chronic hepatitis C cases. A Bayesian coalescent phylogenetic investigation based on the E1 envelope gene and a non-structural genomic segment (NS3/4) was carried out to trace the origin of this epidemic using a large sample of genotype 5a isolates collected throughout France. The dates of documented transmissions by blood transfusion were used to calibrate five nodes in the phylogeny. The results of the E1 gene analysis showed that the best-fitting population dynamic model was the expansion growth model under a relaxed molecular clock. The rate of nucleotide substitutions and time to the most recent common ancestors (tMRCA) of genotype 5a isolates were estimated. The divergence of all the French HCV genotype 5a strains included in this study was dated to 1939 [95% HPD: 1921-1956], and the tMRCA of isolates from central France was dated to 1954 [1942-1967], which is in agreement with epidemiological data. NS3/4 analysis provided similar estimates with strongly overlapping HPD values. Phylodynamic analyses give a plausible reconstruction of the evolutionary history of HCV genotype 5a in France, suggesting the concomitant roles of transfusion, iatrogenic route and intra-familial transmission in viral diffusion.

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