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Evidence for a Complex Mosaic Genome Pattern in a Full-length Hepatitis C Virus Sequence

Author(s): R.S. Ross | J. Verbeeck | S. Viazov | P. Lemey | M. Van Ranst | M. Roggendorf

Journal: Evolutionary Bioinformatics
ISSN 1176-9343

Volume: 4;
Start page: 249;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: flaviviruses | hepatitis C virus | sequence AY651061 | recombination | recombination analysis software | phylogeny programs

The genome of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) exhibits a high genetic variability. This remarkable heterogeneity is mainly attributed to the gradual accumulation of mutational changes, whereas the contribution of recombination events to the evolution of HCV remains controversial so far. While performing phylogenetic analyses including a large number of sequences deposited in the GenBank, we encountered a full-length HCV sequence (AY651061) that showed evidence for inter-subtype recombination and was, therefore, subjected to a detailed analysis of its molecular structure. The obtained results indicated that AY651061 does not represent a “simple” HCV 1c isolate, but a complex 1a/1c mosaic genome, showing five putative breakpoints in the core to NS3 regions. To our knowledge, this is the first report on a mosaic HCV full- length sequence with multiple breakpoints. The molecular structure of AY651061 is reminiscent of complex homologous recombinant variants occurring among other members of the flaviviridae family, e.g. GB virus C, dengue virus, and Japanese encephalitis virus. Our finding of a mosaic HCV sequence may have important implications for many fields of current HCV research which merit careful consideration.
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