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Determination of the full-genome sequence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) SAAS-FX17 and use as a reference to identify putative HEV genotype 4 virulence determinants

Yumin Zhu12, Xiaoming Yu3, Fenfen Huang4, Ruisong Yu12, Shijuan Dong12, Fusheng Si12, Yuanshu Zhang3 and Zhen Li12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shanghai, 201106, China

2 Shanghai Key Laboratory of Agricultural Genetics and Breeding, Shanghai, 201106, China

3 Veterinary College, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210095, China

4 College of Animal Science and Technology, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, 330000, China

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:264  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-264

Published: 8 November 2012



Four major genotypes of hepatitis E virus (HEV), the causative agent of hepatitis E, have so far been recognized. While genotypes 3 and 4 are both zoonotic, the disease symptoms caused by the latter tend to be more severe. To examine if specific nucleotide/amino acid variations between genotypes 3 and 4 play a role in determining the severity of hepatitis E disease, the complete genome of one swine HEV genotype 4 isolate, SAAS-FX17, was determined and compared with other genotype 4 and genotype 3 genomes to identify putative HEV genotype 4 virulence determinants.


A total of 42 conformable nt/aa variations between genotype 3 and 4 HEVs were detected, of which 19 were proposed to be potential disease severity determinants for genotype 4 strains.


One potential determinant was located in each of the 5'-UTR and 3'-UTR, 3 and 12 within ORF1 and ORF2 respectively, and 2 in the junction region.

Hepatitis E virus; Disease severity determinant; Subtype; Genotype; Zoonosis