Detection in chimpanzees of a novel flavivirus related to GB virus-C/hepatitis G virus.
Adams NJ., Prescott LE., Jarvis LM., Lewis JC., McClure MO., Smith DB., Simmonds P.
Infection with hepatitis G virus (HGV) or GB virus-C (GBV-C) is widely distributed in human populations. Viruses related to GBV-C/HGV have been recovered from several New World primate species, including tamarins, owl monkeys and marmosets. To understand more about the relationship between GB viruses and their hosts, we used primers from the 5' non-coding (5'NC), non-structural 3 (NS3) and NS5 regions in nested polymerase chain reactions to screen for related viruses infecting non-captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes, troglodytes and verus subspecies). Sequences from the 5'NCR and NS5 regions were amplified from samples taken from 3 of 39 chimpanzees, and from one chimpanzee in the NS3 region. Sequence comparisons of each region revealed that the GB virus infecting chimpanzees was distinct from both GBV-C/HGV and from any of the known GBV-A sequences, but was more closely related to human viruses. GB viruses recovered from different chimpanzees were more diverse than variants of GBV-C/HGV found in humans, with 25% sequence divergence in the 5'NCR and 20% (9.5% amino acid) sequence divergence in NS5 between variants recovered from the troglodytes and verus subspecies, compared with 7.4% and 10.4% (1.9% amino acid) divergence amongst GBV-C/HGV variants infecting humans. Finding GBV-C/HGV-related viruses in an Old World monkey species suggests that GB-like viruses may be widely distributed in simians, and suggests a close evolutionary relationship with their natural hosts.