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Prevalence of precore-defective mutant of hepatitis B virus in HBV carriers

Prevalence of precore-defective mutant of hepatitis B virus in HBV carriers

Journal of Medical Virology 46(4): 397-402

Two hundred and seventy-three serum specimens from hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers were examined for the presence of a characteristic one point mutation at nucleotide (nt) 1896 from the EcoRI site of the HBV genome in the precore region (the preC mutant) using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. This assay approach could detect preC mutants or wild-type sequences when either form constituted more than 10% of the total sample. Overall, 65.5% (76/116) of HBeAg-positive carriers had only the preC wild-type. All HBeAg-positive asymptomatic carriers (n = 14) had only the preC wild-type. In patients with chronic hepatitis B and in anti-HBe-positive asymptomatic carriers, increased prevalence of the preC mutant was associated with the development of anti-HBe antibodies and normalization of the serum alanine aminotransferase concentration. Furthermore, 27 (29.0%) of 93 HBeAg-negative carriers had unexpectedly preC wild-type sequences only. Direct sequencing of the HBV precore region of HBV specimens from 24 patients revealed no mutation at nt 1896, supporting the specificity of the RFLP analysis. These results suggest that RFLP analysis was accurate for the detection of the preC mutation and that the absence of serum HBeAg cannot be explained solely by the dominance of the preC mutant.

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Accession: 009241122

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PMID: 7595419

DOI: 10.1002/jmv.1890460417

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