Hepatitis B virus
Hepatitis B surface antigen
Immune escape mutants
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Hepatitis B virus (HBV) variants that possessed missense mutation within the neutralization epitope of the major S antigen as defined by amino acid residues (aa#) 124–147, termed the ‘a’ determinant variants, were identified through a population-based serosurvey of 2,305 children of the vaccinated birth cohorts born after 1986. Data on the 678 nucleotides encoding the S antigen of HBV were available for 75 HBV strains that were collected from 63 vaccinated children and 12 unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated children, and 21 HBV strains from 25 unvaccinated adults. Among the diverse patterns of one to three amino acid substitutions within the ‘a’ determinant, 145-Arg occurred most frequently (5/14); other variants were: 126-Ala, 127-Thr, 126-Ser/131-Asn/133-Thr, 129-His, 129-Arg, 123-Asn/131-Ile, 133-Leu, 141-Glu, and 141-Arg/144-Ala. Only one of these variants occurred in the 16 hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-carrier children born to HBsAg-negative mothers, whereas 12 of these variants occurred in the 20 (50%) children born to HBsAg-positive mothers. In addition, early administration of HBV vaccine within the noenatal period increased the likelihood of the emergence of these variants to 64.7% (11/17). Five of the 21 (23.8%) unvaccinated HBsAg-carrier adults harbored the ‘a’ determinant variants possessing mutations within aa# 125–136, i.e. the putative first loop formed by the cysteine disulfide bonds. Vaccinated children were likely to harbor HBV variants possessing mutations involving altered charge of side chains and/or its hydrophobicity of amino acid residues within the putative second loop between aa#140 and 146. Our data suggest that emergence of these HBV S gene mutants in the phase of HBV vaccination program would be most common among populations in whom perinatal/vertical transmission of HBV is most common, i.e. southeast Asian and the Taiwanese.
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