GB virus B (GBV-B) causes acute hepatitis in experimentally infected tamarins. We compared evolutionary features in acute resolving and persistent GBV-B infection. We detected no evidence of evolution in four animals with clearance during weeks 9–12, whereas three animals with clearance during weeks 13–26 had several substitutions in their polyprotein sequence. A single tamarin had long-term GBV-B viraemia; analysis of virus recovered at weeks 2, 5, 12, 20, 26, 52 and 104 demonstrated that mutations accumulated over time. Overall, the amino acid substitution rate was 3.5×10 and 1.1×10 substitutions per site year during weeks 1–52 and 53–104, respectively. Thus, there was a significant decrease in evolution over time, as found for hepatitis C virus. The rate of non-synonymous substitution per non-synonymous site compared with that of synonymous substitution per synonymous site decreased over time, suggesting reduction of positive selective pressure. These data demonstrate that prolonged GBV-B infection is associated with viral evolution.


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