Aim: To study hepatitis C virus (HCV) selection and hypervariable region-1 (HVR1) evolution in a chimpanzee chronically infected with HCV-1 over 12years after inoculation with a human factor VIII concentrate contaminated with HCV. Methods: From the inoculum, the earliest chimpanzee plasma and 12 annual plasma samples, HCV fragments including HVR1 were amplified followed by cloning and sequencing. Results: Five HCV subtypes - 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a - and multiple 1a strains were identified in the inoculum. Two 1a strains were found in the earliest chimpanzee sample, while a single HCV-1 strain was detected in the 12 annual samples. None of the chimpanzee sequences were identical to those found in the inoculum. Over 12years, HVR1 patterns changed irregularly, but a few patterns showed identical nucleotide or amino acid sequences. In the last three years, the variety of HVR1 patterns decreased, while the proportion of major patterns increased. These corresponded to a higher virus load and a lower number of amino acid substitutions. Simultaneously, the HVR1 sequences became more similar to the consensus sequence of the 1a subtype. Conclusion: HCV selection was observed from the inoculum to the inoculated chimpanzee and from the early acute hepatitis to the persistent chronic infection. The selection occurred at three levels: among subtypes after transmission, among isolates during acute hepatitis and among quasispecies in chronic infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes