Genetic heterogeneity and molecular epidemiology of GB virus C/hepatitis G virus in China

P. An, H. Luo, T. Lu, S. J. O'Brien, C. Winkler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: The inter- and intrapatient genetic variation of GB virus C (GBV-C)/hepatitis G virus (HGV) was investigated to characterize the molecular epidemiologic profile of GBV-C/HGV infection in China, an area endemic for viral hepatitis. The intrapatient variation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from the same patients was compared to that of GBV-C/HGV. Study Design/Methods: GB virus C/HGV RNA was amplified by polymerase chain reaction in 88 patients with hepatitis C, hepatitis B or presumed non-A-E hepatitis from three cities in China. Five clones of the GBV-C/HGV NS3 region were sequenced from each GBV-C/HGV RNA-positive patient. The corresponding region of HCV was also sequenced from patients co-infected with HCV. Representative sequences of the GBV-C/HGV NS3 region from each patient and those of isolates from other continents were subjected to phylogenetic analyses. Results: GB virus C/HGV was detected in 22 (25.25%) of 88 patients: 9 (21.4%) of 42 patients with presumed non-A-E hepatitis, 10 (27.7%) of 36 patients with hepatitis C, 3 (30.0%) in 10 patients with hepatitis B and C, and in none of 60 volunteer blood donors. The extent of nucleotide variation was less between Chinese isolates (2.4-17%; median, 10.4%) than between Chinese isolates and seven isolates from outside China (10.5-19.5%; median, 15.3%). Intrapatient sequence variation ranged from 0 to 1.75%, with a mean of 0.57 ± 0.51%. Phylogenetic analysis grouped most Chinese isolates into four geographically specific clusters with a divergence of 10% to 16% from each other. The ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions of GBV-C/HGV (Ka/Ks 0.019) was much lower than for HCV (0.071) in the same patients. Conclusion: Chinese isolates of GBV-C/HGV are genetically distinct. There are local strains as well as shared strains between different locales. The extent of amino acid sequence conservation suggests strong selection against nonsynonymous substitutions in the GBV-C/HGV genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 25 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • GB virus C/hepatitis G virus
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Non-A-E hepatitis
  • Phylogenetic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

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