Hepatitis E virus (HEV) can chronically infect immunocompromised patients. The polyproline region (PPR) and the macro domain of ORF1 protein may modulate virus production and/or the host immune response. We investigated the association between the genetic heterogeneity of HEV quasispecies in ORF1 and the outcome of infection in solid-organ transplant patients. Both sequence entropy and genetic distances during the hepatitis E acute phase were higher in patients whose infection became chronic than in those who cleared the virus. Hence, great quasispecies heterogeneity in the regions encoding the PPR and the macro domain may facilitate HEV persistence.
Keywords: ORF1; chronic infection; hepatitis E; macro domain; polyproline region.