Subgenotyping of Genotype C Hepatitis B Virus: Correcting Misclassifications and Identifying a Novel Subgenotype
Two novel subgenotypes (C6 and D6) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) were identified recently in Papua, a multiethnic area of Indonesia. To characterize further the HBV strains in Papua, serum samples collected from 59 viremic subjects (44 males and 15 females; mean age: 30.0 ± 15.5 years) among indigenous inhabitants in Papua, were subjected to phylogenetic analysis of an 1.6-kb partial sequence. Forty-five samples (76%) had genotype C HBV (HBV/C) [C5 (n = 1), C6 (n = 40), and unclassifiable (n = 4)], while seven samples (12%) were HBV/D [D1 (n = 1) and D6 (n = 6)] and six samples (10%) were HBV/B [B2 (n = 1), B3 (n = 3), B7 (n = 1), and B8 (n = 1)]; the remaining sample possessed B3 and C6. An analysis of the full-length sequence of the four HBV/C isolates (NMB09122, NMB09124, NMB09075, and MRK89073) that were unclassifiable into any of the 10 known HBV/C subgenotypes (C1-C10) showed no significant evidence of recombination. Over the entire genome, the NMB09122 and NMB09124 isolates shared 99.8% identity and segregated into a cluster with a bootstrap value of 100%, differing from HBV/C1-HBV/C10 by 3.8-6.9% (mean, ≥4.0%), indicating that NMB09122 and NMB09124 can be classified into a novel subgenotype within genotype C (tentatively designated C11). The NMB09075 and MRK89073 isolates were 97.4% identical to each other and differed from known HBV/C isolates, including the C11 strains, by 4.0-7.2% (mean, ≥4.5%) over the entire genome, indicating that NMB09075 and MRK89703 can be classified into another novel HBV/C subgenotype (C12). The distribution of C11 and C12 seemed to be associated with particular language speakers in Papua.