Quasispecies structure, cornerstone of hepatitis B virus infection: Mass sequencing approach.
Francisco Rodriguez-Frias, Maria Buti, David Tabernero, Maria Homs, Network Medical Research Center, Hepatic and Digestive Diseases (CIBERehd), Institute of Health Carlos III, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a DNA virus with complex replication, and high replication and mutation rates, leading to a heterogeneous viral population. The population is comprised of genomes that are closely related, but not identical; hence, HBV is considered a viral quasispecies. Quasispecies variability may be somewhat limited by the high degree of overlapping between the HBV coding regions, which is especially important in the P and S gene overlapping regions, but is less significant in the X and preCore/Core genes. Despite this restriction, several clinically and pathologically relevant variants have been characterized along the viral genome. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) approaches enable high-throughput analysis of thousands of clonally amplified regions and are powerful tools for characterizing genetic diversity in viral strains. In the present review, we update the information regarding HBV variability and present a summary of the various NGS approaches available for research in this virus. In addition, we provide an analysis of the clinical implications of HBV variants and their study by NGS.