Two sensitive PCR-based methods for detection of hepatitis B virus variants associated with reduced susceptibility to lamivudine.
Two novel assays, a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assay and an assay based on the 5'-nuclease activity of Taq DNA polymerase, were developed for screening viral variants in lamivudine-treated patients' sera containing <1,000 copies of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome per ml. Both assays were designed to detect single-nucleotide changes within the HBV DNA polymerase gene that are associated with lamivudine resistance in vitro and have been used to screen a number of patients' sera for variant virus. Results obtained with these assays and standard sequencing technology were compared with regard to throughput, ability to detect individual virus species present at low concentrations, and ability to detect, distinguish, and quantitate wild-type (wt) and HBV tyrosine methionine(552) aspartate aspartate motif variants in mixed viral populations. Unlike DNA sequencing, both assays are amenable to high-throughput screening and were shown to be able to quantitatively detect variant virus in the presence of a background of wt virus. As with DNA sequencing, both new assays incorporate a PCR amplification step and are able to detect the relatively low amounts of virus found in lamivudine-treated patients' sera. However, these assays are far less labor intensive than the DNA-sequencing techniques presently in use. Overall, the RFLP assay was more sensitive than DNA sequencing in detecting and determining the ratios of wt to variant virus. Furthermore, the RFLP assay and 5'-nuclease assay were equally sensitive in the detection of mixed viral species, but the RFLP assay was superior to the 5'-nuclease assay in the quantitation of mixed viral species. These assays should prove useful for further understanding of virological response to therapy and disease progression.
Allen, MI; Gauthier, J; DesLauriers, M; Bourne, EJ; Carrick, KM; Baldanti, F; Ross, LL; Lutz, MW; Condreay, LD
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