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.
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.