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Genes (Basel). 2018 Aug 21;9(9). pii: E420. doi: 10.3390/genes9090420.

In Silico Analysis of Hepatitis B Virus Occult Associated Mutations in Botswana Using a Novel Algorithm.

Author information

1
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. motswedi.anderson@gmail.com.
2
Faculty of Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. motswedi.anderson@gmail.com.
3
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. wtchoga@gmail.com.
4
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. smoyo@bhp.org.bw.
5
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. smoyo@bhp.org.bw.
6
Hepatitis Virus Diversity Research Unit (HVDRU), Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa. trevorgrahambell@gmail.com.
7
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. mbangiwat@gmail.com.
8
Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. mbangiwat@gmail.com.
9
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. bphinius@gmail.com.
10
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. lynnettebhebhe@gmail.com.
11
Faculty of Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. sebunyat@gmail.com.
12
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. jmakhema@bhp.org.bw.
13
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. jmakhema@bhp.org.bw.
14
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. rmarlink@globalhealth.rutgers.edu.
15
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. rmarlink@globalhealth.rutgers.edu.
16
Rutgers Global Health Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08854, USA. rmarlink@globalhealth.rutgers.edu.
17
Hepatitis Virus Diversity Research Unit (HVDRU), Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa. anna.kramvis@wits.ac.za.
18
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. messex@hsph.harvard.edu.
19
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. messex@hsph.harvard.edu.
20
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. rmusonda@bhp.org.bw.
21
College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA. blackajt@ucmail.uc.edu.
22
Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana. sgaseitsiwe@bhp.org.bw.
23
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. sgaseitsiwe@bhp.org.bw.

Abstract

Occult hepatitis B infections (OBI) represent a reservoir of undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis B virus (HBV), hence the need to identify mutations that lead to this phenotype. Functionally characterizing these mutations by in vitro studies is time-consuming and expensive. To bridge this gap, in silico approaches, which predict the effect of amino acid (aa) variants on HBV protein function, are necessary. We developed an algorithm for determining the relevance of OBI-associated mutations using in silico approaches. A 3 kb fragment of subgenotypes A1 and D3 from 24 chronic HBV-infected (CHB) and 24 OBI participants was analyzed. To develop and validate the algorithm, the effects of 68 previously characterized occult-associated mutations were determined using three computational tools: PolyPhen2, SNAP2, and PROVEAN. The percentage of deleterious mutations (with impact on protein function) predicted were 52 (76.5%) by PolyPhen2, 55 (80.9%) by SNAP2, and 65 (95.6%) by PROVEAN. At least two tools correctly predicted 59 (86.8%) mutations as deleterious. To identify OBI-associated mutations exclusive to Botswana, study sequences were compared to CHB sequences from GenBank. Of the 43 OBI-associated mutations identified, 26 (60.5%) were predicted by at least two tools to have an impact on protein function. To our knowledge, this is the first study to use in silico approaches to determine the impact of OBI-associated mutations, thereby identifying potential candidates for functional analysis to facilitate mechanistic studies of the OBI phenotype.

KEYWORDS:

Africa; Botswana; HBV; Hepatitis B; in-silico analysis; mutations; occult hepatitis B virus

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