Characterization of Hepatitis C Virus Recombination in Cameroon by Use of Nonspecific Next-Generation Sequencing
Iles JC., Njouom R., Foupouapouognigni Y., Bonsall D., Bowden R., Trebes A., Piazza P., Barnes E., Pépin J., Klenerman P., Pybus OG.
<jats:p>The importance of recombination in the evolution and genetic diversity of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is currently uncertain. Only a small number of intergenotypic recombinants have been identified so far, and each has core and envelope genes classified as belonging to genotype 2. Here, we investigated two putative genotype 4/1 recombinants from southern Cameroon using a number of approaches, including standard Sanger sequencing, genotype-specific PCR amplification, and non-HCV-specific Illumina RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). Recombination between genotypes 1 and 4 was confirmed in both samples, and the parental lineages of each recombinant belong to HCV subtypes that are cocirculating at a high prevalence in Cameroon. Using the RNA-seq approach, we obtained a complete genome for one sample, which contained a recombination breakpoint at the E2/P7 gene junction. We developed and applied a new method, called Deep SimPlot, which can be used to visualize and identify viral recombination directly from the short sequence reads created by next-generation sequencing in conjunction with a consensus sequence.</jats:p>