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Virology. 1988 Jan;162(1):12-20.

Sequence comparison of woodchuck hepatitis virus replicative forms shows conservation of the genome.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The complete nucleotide sequence of virion DNA from two isolates of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV 7 and WHV 59) was determined along with the sequence of supercoiled DNA from one of those isolates (WHV 7). The sequences of the two WHV isolates were compared with the previously published sequences of two other isolates (WHV 1 and WHV 8). The range of nucleotide sequence variation of the four isolates (1 to 3.5%) was similar to those of HBVs of the same subtype (1.5 to 2%), but less than those of HBVs of different subtypes (8 to 10%). When amino acid sequences from the four WHV isolates were aligned, a consensus sequence could not be obtained at 13 sites. At 11 of 13 sites (7 in polymerase, 2 in presurface, 1 in surface, and 1 in the X region) the viruses could be grouped into pairs, so that WHV 1 and WHV 59 shared one amino acid and/or WHV 7 and WHV 8 shared a different amino acid. WHV 7 was passaged twice in woodchucks and supercoiled DNA was isolated. The nucleotide sequence of WHV 7 supercoiled DNA (derived from liver) was compared to that of WHV 7 virion DNA (derived from serum). Sequence comparison of virion and free supercoiled DNA from WHV 7 showed no nucleotide changes, except for a single nucleotide deletion thought to represent an error during molecular cloning or a defective viral genome. Thus, the nucleotide sequence of two different replicative forms of WHV DNA, separated by two in vivo passages, were virtually identical.

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