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Virology. 1997 Jun 23;233(1):43-50.

Mutation rate of GB virus C/hepatitis G virus over the entire genome and in subgenomic regions.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Nagoya City University, Aichi-Ken, Japan.


A patient on maintenance hemodialysis was infected with a recently discovered putative non-A to -E hepatitis virus designated GB virus C (GBV-C) or hepatitis G virus (HGV) by transfusion. The viral isolate was recovered from the patient soon after she turned positive for GBV-C/HGV RNA in serum (GS185) and 8.4 years thereafter (GS193), and the entire nucleotide sequences were determined. They both had a genomic length of 9391 nucleotides with a defective C gene made of only 42 nucleotides. Between GS185 and GS193, 31 (0.33%) nucleotides were different, which changed 5 (0.18%) of the encoded 2842 amino acids. Thus, GBV-C/HGV was estimated to have a mutation rate of 3.9 x 10(-4) base substitutions per site per year. Nucleotide conversions were distributed over subgenomic regions, except in the 5' untranslated region of 552 nucleotides and a defective short C gene, which were conserved in sequence. The change in the putative envelope genes (E1 and E2) was no different from that in the entire genome with only 6 (0.35%) nucleotide substitutions among the 1730, just 1 of which induced an amino acid conversion. Taken along with the comparison of the two isolates with the reported five GBV-C or HGV isolates, these results indicate that GBV-C/HGV would not have hypervariable regions and would use a strategy for viral persistence that is different from immune escape.

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