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Hepatitis E Virus Genotype 3 Genomes from RNA-Positive but Serologically Negative Plasma Donors Have CUG as the Start Codon for ORF3

Journal article
Authors Helene Norder
Cristina Galli
Ellen Magnil
Per Sikora
E. Ekvarn
Kristina Nyström
L. O. Magnius
Published in Intervirology
Volume 61
Issue 2
Pages 96-103
ISSN 0300-5526
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Pathology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 96-103
Language en
Keywords HEV3, Blood donors, Mutation, Nucleotide sequence, e viral-infection, blood-donors, protein, sequences, donations, virology, Sweden
Subject categories Virology


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a pathogen that causes hepatitis worldwide. Molecular studies have identified HEV RNA in blood products although its significance is not understood. This study was undertaken to characterize HEV genomes in asymptomatic plasma donors from Sweden and Germany lacking anti-HEV. Complete open reading frames (ORFs) were obtained from HEV strains in 5 out of 18 plasma donors who tested positive for HEV RNA. All strains had CUG as the start codon of ORF3, while 147 GenBank strains all had AUG as the start codon (p < 0.0001). This substitution was found in both interrelated and unrelated strains belonging to different phylogenetic clades. The HEV strains from the seronegative plasma donors had no other substitution in common, which may be why the CUG substitution seems to ex- plain the seronegativity. (C) 2018 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel

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