Three hepatitis C virus (HCV) isolates were obtained from patients with chronic liver diseases in Indonesia which were not classifiable into any of the genotypes I/1a, II/1b, III/2a, IV/2b or V/3a reported previously. The entire nucleotide sequence was determined for one HCV isolate (HC-G9); the remaining two isolates were of the same genotype based on a > 95% similarity within their partial sequences spanning 2927 nucleotides (nt). The HC-G9 genome consisted of 9440 nt including the 5′ untranslated region of 341 nt, an open reading frame of 9033 nt coding for a polyprotein of 3011 amino acids and the 3′ untranslated region of 66 nt (U stretch of 17 to 47 nt at the extreme 3′ terminus excluded). It differed by 20 to 33% in nucleotide sequence from any of 14 HCV genomes of genotypes I/1a to IV/2b whose full-length sequences are known. By the unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic mean, HC-G9 was on a major branch (group 1) of the phylogenetic tree of HCV to which genotypes I/1a and II/1b belong. It is proposed, therefore, that the novel genotype for HC-G9 should be called 1c. A method was developed to identify genotype 1c by PCR with a primer deduced from the core gene that was specific to it. Since genotype 1c was detected in seven (15%) of 48 HCV RNA samples from Indonesian patients with chronic liver disease, but not in any of 1097 from other districts of the world, it appears to have evolved and remained in Indonesia. In addition to its epidemiological importance, the association of genotype 1c HCV with the severity of liver disease and its response to interferons deserve to be evaluated.


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