J Gen Virol 2002 Apr;83(Pt 4):835-839
MRC/CANSA/University Molecular Hepatology Research Unit, Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa1.
A phylogenetic analysis is presented of six complete and seven pre-S1/S2/S gene sequences of hepatitis B virus (HBV) isolates from South Africa. Five of the full-length sequences and all of the pre-S2/S sequences have been previously reported. Four of the six complete genomes and three of the five incomplete sequences clustered with subgroup A', a unique segment of genotype A of HBV previously identified in 60% of South African isolates using analysis of the pre-S2/S region alone. This separation was also evident when the polymerase open reading frame was analysed, but not on analysis of either the X or pre-core/core genes. Amino acids were identified in the pre-S1 and polymerase regions specific to subgroup A'. In common with genotype D, 10 of 11 genotype A South African isolates had an 11 amino acid deletion in the amino end of the pre-S1 region. This deletion is also found in hepadnaviruses from non-human primates.