Genotypes B and C hepatocellular carcinoma–associated hepatitis B virus pre-S mutants: their detection among F1b and A2 – but not F4 – isolates from Argentina


José R. Oubiña, Instituto de Microbiología y Parasitología Médica (IMPAM), Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, Piso 11, 1121 Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Summary.  Prevalence rates of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-associated hepatitis B virus (HBV) pre-S mutants among most genotypes are still lacking. In this study, viral (sub)genotypes of 70 Argentine nucleotide sequences (33 newly obtained) were determined by phylogenetic analysis, and the presence of such mutants was assessed in the American continent for the first time. Nucleotide substitutions of the pre-S2 start codon were observed in 10% of the HBV/A2 sequences. Ten per cent of the HBV/A2 and 12.5% of the HBV/F1b – but none of HBV/F4 – exhibited a deletion in the pre-S1/pre-S2 region. The contribution of these variants to liver cirrhosis (LC) and/or HCC development among HBV/F and HBV/A isolates deserves further prospective clinical studies.