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J Clin Virol. 2018 Nov;108:96-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2018.09.013. Epub 2018 Sep 19.

Within-host evolution of virus variants during chronic infection with novel GII.P26-GII.26 norovirus.

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Institute of Virology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany. Electronic address:
Institute of Virology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.
Institute of Virology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany. Electronic address:



Noroviruses are a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in all age groups. They generally cause a rapidly self-limiting illness. However, chronic norovirus diarrheal disease occurs in immunocompromised individuals, and is accompanied by persistent shedding of infectious norovirus in stool.


The study aims to characterize a novel GII.P26-GII.26 norovirus strain. Furthermore, it analyses viral mutations arising during chronic infection of an immunocompromised host.


Over the course of more than three years, stool samples were obtained from an immunocompromised patient and screened for the presence of norovirus RNA by real-time PCR and norovirus antigen by immunoassay. Viral population kinetics was analyzed by conventional and high-throughput-sequencing.


Real-time PCR yielded high amounts of norovirus RNA in the stool, but antigen immunoassays failed to detect the virus. The near complete norovirus genome was assigned as novel GII.P26-GII.26 genotype. Conventional as well as high-throughput sequencing pointed to a heterogeneous viral population with low rates of non-synonymous substitutions. Within-host evolution was enhanced in non-structural protein p22 and the N-terminal arm of the capsid protein VP1 but reduced in the viral polymerase RdRp. Intermittent non-synonymous substitutions in the protruding domain of the VP1 reverted fully over time.


Confirmation of novel GII.P26-GII.26 norovirus genotypes provides insight into norovirus genetic diversity. The study further illustrates norovirus infection as an important differential diagnosis of recurrent persistent diarrhea in immunocompromised patients. The provided data on within-host evolution contribute to the insight of the mechanisms of viral persistence and pathogenesis in chronic norovirus infections.


Chronic gastroenteritis; Immunocompromised; Stem cell transplantation; Viral evolution; Viral quasispecies; Virus-host-interactions


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