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Virology. 1993 Dec;197(2):659-68.

Dynamics of genome change in the E2/NS1 region of hepatitis C virus in vivo.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.


To substantiate and extend the quasispecies model of hepatitis C virus (HCV), we made a pairwise comparison in the nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences for multiple recombinant clones of the E2/NS1 region, which derived from each blood sample taken from five patients of subtype II or subtype III infection at different stages. Sequence heterogeneity among the clones was generally high. The heterogeneity, however, changed temporally and appeared to be significantly lowered after interferon therapy. The temporal fluctuation involved selection of particular amino acids at particular positions, which had represented only a minor fraction or had been absent in the previous clones. Evolution of defective viruses was featured by most of the cases, the proportion of which also fluctuated temporally and was extremely high at a certain stage in one of the patients. A comparison was also made among the clones from different stages of each patient and revealed highly divergent clones. An extreme case of subtype III infection showed sequence differences well beyond those among chronologically and geographically different isolates of subtype I or subtype II, which were defined by the same calculation of available sequence data. These features of HCV genome suggest that the virus could circulate as an extremely heterogeneous population including defective viruses and that this heterogeneity lends itself to selection pressures including interferon therapy and host immune response. Our results also indicate an absolute need of population based approach in HCV genetics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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