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High Frequency of Either Altered Pre-Core StartCodon or Weakened Kozak Sequence in the CorePromoter Region in Hepatitis B Virus A1 Strainsfrom Rwanda.

Journal article
Authors Helene Norder
Theogene Twagirumugabe
Joanna Said
Yarong Tian
Ka-Wei Tang
Lars Magnius
Magnus Lindh
Published in Genes
Volume 10
Issue 3
ISSN 2073-4425
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Language en
Subject categories Other Basic Medicine


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is endemic in Rwanda and is a major etiologic agent for chronic liver disease in the country. In a previous analysis of HBV strains from Rwanda, the S genes of most strains segregated into one single clade of subgenotype, A1. More than half (55%) of the anti-HBe positive individuals were viremic. In this study, 23 complete HBV genomes and the core promoter region (CP) from 18 additional strains were sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis of complete genomes confirmed that most Rwandan strain formed a single unique clade, within subgenotype A1. Strains from 17 of 22 (77%) anti-HBe positive HBV carriers had either mutated the precore start codon (9 strains with either CUG, ACG, UUG, or AAG) or mutations in the Kozak sequence preceding the pre-core start codon (8 strains). These mutually exclusive mutations were also identified in subgenotypes A1 (70/266; 26%), A2 (12/255; 5%), and A3 (26/49; 53%) sequences from the GenBank. The results showed that previous, rarely described HBV variants, expressing little or no HBeAg, are selected in anti-HBe positive subgenotype Al carriers from Rwanda and that mutations reducing HBeAg synthesis might be unique for a particular HBV clade, not just for a specific genotype or subgenotype.

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