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Genetic Vaccines and Therapy

Open Access

Hepatitis C virus genotype 3a with phylogenetically distinct origin is circulating in Pakistan

  • Irshad-ur Rehman1,
  • Muhammad Idrees1Email author,
  • Muhammad Ali1,
  • Liaqat Ali1,
  • Sadia Butt1,
  • Abrar Hussain1,
  • Haji Akbar1 and
  • Samia Afzal1
Genetic Vaccines and Therapy20119:2

https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-0556-9-2

Received: 5 December 2010

Accepted: 6 January 2011

Published: 6 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the leading causes of viral hepatitis worldwide and its genotype 3a is predominant in vast areas of Pakistan.

Findings

The present study reports the first full sequence of HCV 3a isolate PK-1 from Pakistan. This nucleotide sequence was compared with six other HCV genotype 3a full length sequences from different regions of the world by using statistical methods of phylogenetic analysis.

Conclusion

The nucleotide difference of these seven sequences shows that HCV genotype 3a of phylogenetically distinct origin is circulating in Pakistan.

Findings

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is leading cause of chronic liver disease [1] with estimated 170-200 million infected persons worldwide [2] including approximately 17 million in Pakistan [3]. It is positive single stranded RNA virus first isolated in 1819 and is a member of Flaviviridae [2, 4]. The HCV genome is about 9.6 kb in length consisting of single open reading frame encoding a polyprotein of 3,000 amino acids and non-translated regions located at the 5'and 3' terminus [5].

The relative prevalence of HCV genotypes varies with the geographic area but genotypes 1, 2 and 3 have worldwide distribution. 1a and 1b are the most widespread genotypes in the Europe, [6] USA, [7] and Japan [8]. HCV subtype 3a is the most common genotype circulating in India [9], Nepal [10] and Pakistan [11]. HCV genotype 4 prevailing in the Middle East and North Africa [12], and genotypes 5 and 6 appears to be most common to South Africa and Hong Kong, respectively [13]. Genetic analysis of HCV genotype 3a is very important as it is very sensitive to interferon therapy compared to the other genotypes.

Butt and colleagues [2] showed that HCV 3a has been the predominant genotype (causing disease in 62% - 70% patients) in Pakistan based on the last ten years data (2000-2009), which shows that this genotype has been successfully spreading in Pakistan. However, it has not been well characterized genomically. For this purpose, serum sample from patient infected with HCV was obtained and consensus sequence of HCV genotype 3a isolate PK-1 was determined from cDNA using various modified methods [14, 15]. In the present study, we report the first full sequence of HCV isolate PK-1 (9474 nucleotides) from Pakistan. This genomic sequence is phylogenetically distinct from the HCV genotype 3a isolates sequenced in the rest of the countries like USA, New Zealand, Italy, Australia and Germany (Table 1).
Table 1

List of the hepatitis C virus genotype 3a sequences used in the analysis.

S. No.

GenBank accession No.

Country

Strain*

1

D17763

New Zealand

2005-NZL1

2

X76918

Germany

2005

3

D28917

USA

2005-HCV-K3a/650

4

AF046866

Australia

2007-CB

5

Gu294484/Pk

Pakistan

2010-PK-1

6

GU814263

Italy

2010-S52

7

GU814264

Italy

2010-S52 (Synthetic construct)

*Year of publication of the genome in GenBank and strain if assigned.

GenBank accession numbers, place of isolation, isolate name and publishing year are also mentioned.

Phylogenetic analysis of the isolate PK-1 and all the full length HCV genotype 3a genomes (n = 7) in the GenBank database (Table 1) by using MEGA4 software package. Two different methods (UPGMA method and Neighbor Joining (NJ) method) of the phylogenetic analysis were used as described previously [16]. Evolutionary distances were also estimated by using methods previously reported by Tamura et al [16].

The full length genomic sequences of HCV 3a reported from USA, New Zealand, Italy and Australia were clustered together while Pakistani isolate is shown phylogenetically distinct by 500 replicates bootstrap analysis (Figure 1). Estimates of evolutionary divergence between the sequences (Table 1) shows that the Pakistani isolate have evolutionary distance of 0.085-0.103 to the rest of all the full length sequences however, the average distance between all these sequences is 0.0655 ± 0.0071 (Table 2). The analysis also suggests that PK-1 and American isolate (D28917) are the earliest phylogenetic representatives of the HCV genotype 3a that has been successfully spreading in Pakistan and USA respectively, while the rest of the isolates are their late derivatives spreading in Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Australia. As 3a is the predominant genotype in Pakistan, its sequencing data and evolutionary analysis will help in evaluation and development of new antiviral therapies and possible vaccine development. Moreover, the association of HCV genotype 3a full length nucleotide sequences with the epidemiology, severity of disease and its response to interferon therapy needs to be evaluated.
Figure 1

The bootstrap original phylogenetic tree of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 3a isolates from different regions of the world based on complete genome sequences inferred from 500 replicates representing the evolutionary relationship. Branches corresponding to partitions reproduced in less than 50% bootstrap replicates are clustered together while; branch lengths are measured by the scale in the same units as those of the evolutionary distances. GenBank accession numbers, genotype and place of isolation are mentioned for all the isolates. (a) UPGMA analysis (b) Neighbour-Joining method describing the evolutionary relationship between the HCV full length sequences.

Table 2

Estimates of evolutionary divergence between sequences with standard error estimates.

Sequence 1

Sequence 2

Dist

Std. Err

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

0.0858383

0.0100783

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

GU814263(3a)/Italy

0.0929113

0.0108032

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

GU814263(3a)/Italy

0.0480462

0.0056442

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

GU814264(3a)/Italy

0.0945252

0.0110770

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

GU814264(3a)/Italy

0.0492012

0.0058641

GU814263(3a)/Italy

GU814264(3a)/Italy

0.0016043

0.0004740

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

AF046866(3a)/Australia

0.0965145

0.0109635

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

AF046866(3a)/Australia

0.0520425

0.0061060

GU814263(3a)/Italy

AF046866(3a)/Australia

0.0499546

0.0059291

GU814264(3a)/Italy

AF046866(3a)/Australia

0.0508833

0.0061427

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

X76918(3a)/Germany

0.0945054

0.0110161

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

X76918(3a)/Germany

0.0533185

0.0065799

GU814263(3a)/Italy

X76918(3a)/Germany

0.0518464

0.0066160

GU814264(3a)/Italy

X76918(3a)/Germany

0.0526615

0.0067952

AF046866(3a)/Australia

X76918(3a)/Germany

0.0550679

0.0067483

Gu294484(3a)/Pakistan

D28917(3a)/USA

0.1032085

0.0119522

D17763(3a)/New Zealand

D28917(3a)/USA

0.0673865

0.0078749

GU814263(3a)/Italy

D28917(3a)/USA

0.0666617

0.0075880

GU814264(3a)/Italy

D28917(3a)/USA

0.0676199

0.0077599

AF046866(3a)/Australia

D28917(3a)/USA

0.0704518

0.0080246

X76918(3a)/Germany

D28917(3a)/USA

0.0712210

0.0083935

* All the positions containing missing data and gapes were eliminated.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Sources of support: This work was partially supported by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Division of Molecular Virology, National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology, University of the Punjab

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Copyright

© Rehman et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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