Hepatitis B virus genotype E variability in Africa

Judith M. Hübschen, Iris E. Andernach, Claude P. Muller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, genotype E is the predominant genotype throughout a vast region spanning from Senegal to Namibia and extending to the Central African Republic in the East. Despite its wide geographic distribution and the high prevalence throughout this genotype E crescent, this genotype has a very low genetic diversity. Objectives: Here we review our current understanding of genotype E reanalysing all currently available sequences of the S gene and the complete genome. Results: Phylogenetic analysis of the complete genome sequences confirmed a previously suggested South-West/Central African cluster and several lineages of West African sequences. The overall mean genetic distance was 1.71%, with the more Southern countries of the genotype E crescent exhibiting lower distances than the Northern countries. Conclusions: Genotype E seems to have a longer natural history in the Northern part of the genotype E crescent than in the Southern countries. As genotype E is essentially absent from the Americas despite the Afro-American slave trade until at least the beginning of the 19th century, genotype E strains may have been introduced into the general African population only within the past 200 years. How the virus may have spread throughout the genotype E crescent warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-380
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Africa
  • Genotype E
  • Hepatitis B virus


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