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Volume 50, Number 6, December 2017

RNA recombination in Hepatitis delta virus: Identification of a novel naturally occurring recombinant 

Chia-Chi Lin, Chi-Ching Lee, Siao-Han Lin, Po-Jung Huang, Hsin-Pai Li, Yu-Sun Chang, Petrus Tang, Mei Chao


Corresponding author:

Mei Chao, Corresponding authors. Division of Microbiology, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Number 259, Wenhua First Road, Guishan, 33302 Taoyuan, Taiwan. 


Background and purpose: 

Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is the only animal RNA virus that has an unbranched rod-like genome with ribozyme activity. It replicates in the nucleus by host RNA polymerase via a rolling circle mechanism. Similar to many RNA viruses encoding their own RNA-dependent RNA polymerases, homologous recombination of HDV occurs in mixed-genotype infections and in cultured cells cotransfected with two HDV sequences, as demonstrated by molecular analyses. 



Among 237 published complete genomic sequences, 34 sequences were reported from the small and isolated Miyako Island, Japan, and belonged to the Asia-specific genotypes, HDV-2 and HDV-4 (the majority of them belonged to the known Miyako Island-specific subgroup, HDV-4M). We investigated the presence of naturally occurring HDV recombinant in Miyako Island using phylogenetic and recombination analyses. 



We identified a two-switch HDV-4/4M intersubtype recombinant with an unbranched rod-like RNA genome. 



Our data suggest that RNA recombination plays an important role in the rapid evolution of HDV, allowing the production of new HDV strains with correct genomic structures. 


Key words:

hepatitis delta virus, RNA recombination