Due to error-prone RNA polymerase and the lack of proofreading mechanisms, to the spread worldwide and probable long-term presence in human population, HCV showed a high degree of inter- and intra-subtype genetic variability. Protease inhibitors (PIs), a new class of drugs, have been designed specifically on the HCV genotype 1 NS3 protease three-dimensional structure. The viral genetic barrier limits the efficacy of PIs, and fourteen loci in the HCV NS3 gene are involved in resistance to PIs. A sensitive method (15UI/ml) for study the HCV genetic profile of 125 strains from patients naïve to PIs, was developed through the use of new degenerate primers for subtype 1b. We observed the presence of naturally resistance-associated variants in 14% of the HCV strains (V36L, F43S, T54S, I153V, R155Q, D168A/G). T54S was the most common mutation (4%) detected. We investigated, through minimal score (m.s.) calculating, how the HCV intra-subtype 1b variability modifies the genetic barrier to PIs. For >60% of strains a single transition (m.s. of 1) was required for selection of low to medium resistance mutations, while more than one transition/transversion (m.s. ⩾2.5) or one transition plus one transversion (m.s. ⩾3.5) was necessary for most of the high level PI-resistant-associated mutations, except for A156V, for which a single transition was sufficient (m.s. of 1). However, the presence at locus 36 of the amino acid polymorphism S36 in one case and the wild type V36 in 6 isolates, encoded by unusual GTA or GTG codons, might determined a higher probability of V36L/M mutations because of the reduction of the genetic barrier. Instead, the presence of the CGA and CGT codons in the 155(th) position increases the genetic barrier for R155M or R155Q/M. The large intra-subtype variability, suggests that a routine baseline resistance test must be used before PIs-treatment.
|Numero di pagine||6|
|Rivista||INFECTION GENETICS AND EVOLUTION|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2014|
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