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Abstract

There is currently no universally accepted numbering convention for the antiviral drug-related resistance mutations in the reverse transcriptase (rt) domain of the human hepatitis B virus (HBV) polymerase. The published inconsistencies have resulted from different HBV genotypes. A standardized numbering system for HBV polymerase is proposed. The new system is based on functional observations of HBV surface gene proteins (preS1, preS2, and HBsAg) and on the current convention used for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) polymerase proteins (protease, rt, and integrase), in which the amino acid numbering restarts at the first codon position of each domain. The HBV polymerase protein can be divided into 4 domains (terminal protein, spacer, rt, ribonuclease H) and each of these can be numbered separately. In this proposal, the HBV rt domain starts with the highly conserved EDWGPCDEHG motif, contains 344 amino acids, and the lamivudine-related resistance mutations are found at amino acid rtL180M (previously amino acid 528, 526, 515, or 525) and rtM204V/I (previously 552, 550, 539, or 549). The new consensus rt domain numbering system is genotype independent and allows investigators to number any previously and newly discovered antiviral-related amino acid change in a standardized manner.