1887

Abstract

Hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) sequences of 96 clones at six time-points representing 27 variants in two major and one minor group were identified in a patient with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection over 3 years. Major and selected minor variants were used to design synthetic peptides corresponding to the HVR1 C terminus. Peptide ELISA reactivity with IgG was plotted against the corresponding clone frequency, and three patterns emerged: (1) three peptides were unreactive; (2) antibodies against two peptides followed emergence of the corresponding variant, suggesting isolate-specificity; (3) antibodies against four peptides preceded the appearance of the corresponding variant, indicating cross-reactivity or previous exposure. Cross-reactivity was investigated further: sera from six time-points were tested against 11 unrelated HVR1 peptides, seven of which (63.6%) showed cross-reactivity at all time-points. Cross-reactivity of nine patient-specific peptides tested against a panel of 45 heterologous sera from chronic HCV carriers ranged between 0 and 20%. Only three of 27 variants appeared at more than one time-point and in two cases specific and/or cross-reactive HVR1 antibodies coexisted with the corresponding variant, consistent with emergence of escape mutants. In addition, analysis of HVR1 IgG reactivity within a group of closely related patient-specific peptides revealed a loss of reactivity in one peptide attributable to a single amino acid substitution. Interferon-alpha treatment considerably reduced viral RNA but, paradoxically, heterogeneity increased.

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1999-02-01
2024-02-25
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