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J Med Virol. 2012 Feb;84(2):198-206. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23183.

Comprehensive analysis of the prevalence of hepatitis B virus escape mutations in the major hydrophilic region of surface antigen.

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State Key Laboratory of Virology, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.


Escape mutations in the major hydrophilic region (MHR) of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) are reported widely worldwide; these mutations lead to diagnostic problems, emergence of vaccine-escape mutants, and hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) therapy failure. However, the prevalence of these mutations in different genotypes remains to be studied systematically. In the current study, 11,221 non-redundant hepatitis B virus (HBV) sequences of 8 genotypes (from A to H), obtained from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), were analyzed to determine the prevalence of HBsAg escape mutations that were previously described. Eight important mutations associated with diagnostic failure, P120T, T126S, Q129H, G130N, S143L, D144A, and G145A/R, were prevalent in one or more genotypes, with the frequency of no less than 1%. With regard to escape variants that evade vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy, mutations were located mainly at positions 120, 126, 129, 130, 133, 134, 137, 140, 143, 144, and 145. The majority of such mutations showed genotypic heterogeneity, indicating the different distribution of the escape mutations. Most of the escape mutations clustered in the "a" determinant, indicating that this region was more likely to be affected by immune selection or antiviral therapy than other regions. Understanding the prevalence and heterogeneity of escape mutations could provide useful guidance for the improvement of diagnostic assays, design of new vaccines, and prevention of failure of HBIG therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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