The genomes of nine GBV-C/HGV isolates from Japanese chronic hepatitis patients were fully sequenced and characterized. They shared 85% nucleotide sequence homology with previously characterized isolates from the US and West Africa. Homology studies and phylogenetic analyses showed that the Japanese isolates formed a third group distinct from the established groups 1 and 2. The genetic distances between the three groups of GBV-C/HGV were very similar to the distances between the two classical swine fever virus (CSFV) serotypes, which suggested that they might belong to a separate GBV-C/HGV serotype. Plot similarity analysis comparing the three groups exposed relatively conserved terminal non-coding regions. Hairpin structures predicted in the Japanese isolates are probably involved in viral replication. The region coding E1-E2-NS-2 showed the least similarity (80%); in HCV the similarity here is only 50% due to its hypervariablity. NS-3 and NS-5b that respectivity encode the helicase/protease and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, had a high degree of amino acid homo- logy, suggesting a high degree of functional constraint in this region. The NS-5b nucleotide sequence was highly conserved perhaps because of constraints from RNA secondary structure and/or an open reading frame in the negative strand.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 1998
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