Approximately 3% of the world population is chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). GB virus B (GBV-B), a surrogate model for HCV, causes hepatitis in tamarins and is the virus phylogenetically most closely related to HCV. Previously we described a chimeric GBV-B containing an HCV insert from the 5′ noncoding region (NCR) that was adapted for efficient replication in tamarins (Saguinus species). We have also demonstrated that wild-type (WT) GBV-B rapidly adapts for efficient replication in a closely related species, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). Here, we demonstrate that the chimeric virus failed to adapt during serial passage in marmosets. The chimeric virus was passaged four times through 24 marmosets. During passage, two marmoset phenotypes were observed: susceptible and partially resistant. Although appearing to adapt in a resistant animal during a prolonged and gradual increase in viremia, the chimeric GBV-B failed to replicate efficiently upon passage to a naïve marmoset. The resistance was specific to the chimeric virus, as the chimeric virus-resistant animals were susceptible to marmoset-adapted WT virus during rechallenge studies. Three isolates of the chimeric virus were sequenced, and 20 nucleotide changes were observed, including eight amino acid changes. Three unique changes were observed in the 5′ NCR chimeric insert, an area that is highly conserved in HCV. We speculate that the failure of the chimeric virus to adapt in marmosets might be due to a bottleneck that occurs at the time of infection of resistant animals, which may lead to a loss of fitness upon serial passage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science