T1764G1766 core promoter double mutants are restricted to Hepatitis B virus strains with an A1757 and are common in genotype D
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To investigate the role of pre-core and basal core promoter (BCP) mutants in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative chronic hepatitis B (e-CHB) in Iran, Hepatitis B virus strains from 30 patients and 42 anti-HBe-positive asymptomatic carriers (ASCs) were characterized. G1896 A pre-core stop mutants, detected in 77% of e-CHB patients and 85% of ASCs, showed no association with virus load or aminotransferase levels. Twenty per cent of e-CHB patients and 31% of ASCs harboured T1762 A1764 mutants. When this double mutation was associated with G1757, it was linked to a higher virus load in patients than when it was associated with A1757 (105.2±1.8 vs 103.2±0.8 copies ml-1; P=0.004). Interestingly, the most common BCP mutations were T1764 and G1766, which were present in 33% of e-CHB patients and 29% of ASCs. These were associated with higher virus load and aminotransferase levels compared with patients lacking core promoter mutations, although this was not significant. The T1764 G1766 double mutation was only present in strains with A1757 (P<0.001), which is more frequent in strains of genotype D than in those belonging to other genotypes. On the other hand, the T1762 A1764 double mutation was found more frequently in association with G1757 than with A1757. The T1762 A1764 double mutation forms a binding site for hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 (HNF1), which is constrained by A1757. However, the T1764 G1766 double mutant may form a binding site for HNF3. Thus, position 1757 affects the emergence of promoter double mutants and would predict a relative genotypic restriction of both the T1762 A1764 and the T1764 G1766 double mutants. © 2005 SGM.
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