Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes acute or chronic hepatitis in humans worldwide and can be transmitted via the fecal-oral route. Four HEV strains (HE-JA14-2173, HE-JA15-1335, HE-JA15-1920 and HE-JA16-0610) obtained from patients with imported (from Pakistan or India) or autochthonous acute hepatitis E in Japan were most closely related to the Nepalese and Mongolian genotype 1 HEV strains of unassigned subtype within the partial ORF2 sequence. To investigate whether a putative novel subtype (1g) of genotype 1 can be assigned, full-length genomic sequences were determined for the four HEV strains. They shared 95.4−99.2% nucleotide identity over the entire genome, and differed by 6.3−11.7% from the reported HEV strains of subtypes 1a−1f and by only 0.6−4.7% from a Mongolian genotype 1 HEV strain (MNE15-072) of unassigned subtype. A phylogenetic analysis showed that the four HEV strains obtained in the present study formed a cluster with MNE15-072, with a bootstrap value of 100%. Although the p-distance between subtypes 1a and 1f was 0.048−0.083, these five strains showed a higher nucleotide p-distance value of 0.068−0.138 with the genotype 1 HEV strains of subtypes 1a−1f. A BLAST search revealed the presence of candidate members of subtype 1g HEV in at least five other countries, including France, Israel, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the UK, sharing identities of 95.4−99.6% with the HE-JA16-0610 strain within the common sequence of 294−867 nucleotides. These results support the assignment of a new subtype 1g within genotype 1 and suggest a global distribution of subtype 1g strains. Subtype 1g strains found in Europe can be imported from Asia. Further studies are needed to confirm the global distribution of HEV subtype 1g.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases