PloS one 2016 08 2511(8) e0161880 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0161880
The non-pathogenic Human Pegivirus (HPgV, formerly GBV-C/HGV), the most prevalent RNA virus worldwide, is known to be associated with reduced morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. Although previous studies documented its ubiquity and important role in HIV-infected individuals, little is known about the underlying genetic mechanisms that maintain high genetic diversity of HPgV within the HIV-infected individuals. To assess the within-host genetic diversity of HPgV and forces that maintain such diversity within the co-infected hosts, we performed phylogenetic analyses taking into account 229 HPgV partial E1-E2 clonal sequences representing 15 male and 8 female co-infected HIV patients from Hubei province of central China. Our results revealed the presence of eleven strongly supported clades. While nine clades belonged to genotype 3, two clades belonged to genotype 2. Additionally, four clades that belonged to genotype 3 exhibited inter-clade recombination events. The presence of clonal sequences representing multiple clades within the HIV-infected individual provided the evidence of co-circulation of HPgV strains across the region. Of the 23 patients, six patients (i.e., five males and one female) were detected to have HPgV recombinant sequences. Our results also revealed that while male patients shared the viral strains with other patients, viral strains from the female patients had restricted dispersal. Taken together, the present study revealed that multiple infections with divergent HPgV viral strains may have caused within-host genetic recombination, predominantly in male patients, and therefore, could be the major driver in shaping genetic diversity of HPgV.