Norder H, Galli C, Magnil E, Sikora P, Ekvärn E, Nyström K, Magnius LO
Intervirology 61 (2) 96-103 [2018-10-02; online 2018-10-02]
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a pathogen that causes hepatitis worldwide. Molecular studies have identified HEV RNA in blood products although its significance is not understood. This study was undertaken to characterize HEV genomes in asymptomatic plasma donors from Sweden and Germany lacking anti-HEV. Complete open reading frames (ORFs) were obtained from HEV strains in 5 out of 18 plasma donors who tested positive for HEV RNA. All strains had CUG as the start codon of ORF3, while 147 GenBank strains all had AUG as the start codon (p < 0.0001). This substitution was found in both interrelated and unrelated strains belonging to different phylogenetic clades. The HEV strains from the seronegative plasma donors had no other substitution in common, which may be why the CUG substitution seems to explain the seronegativity.