The white sucker Catostomus commersonii is a freshwater teleost often utilized as a resident sentinel. Here, we sequenced the full genome of a hepatitis B-like virus that infects white suckers from the Great Lakes Region of the United States. Dideoxy sequencing confirmed that the white sucker hepatitis B virus (WSHBV) has a circular genome (3,542 bp) with the prototypical codon organization of hepadnaviruses. Electron microscopy demonstrated that complete virions of approximately 40 nm were present in the plasma of infected fish. Compared to avi- and orthohepadnaviruses, sequence conservation of the core, polymerase, and surface proteins was low and ranged from 16 to 27% at the amino acid level. An X protein homologue common to the orthohepadnaviruses was not present. The WSHBV genome included an atypical, presumptively noncoding region absent in previously described hepadnaviruses. Phylogenetic analyses confirmed WSHBV as distinct from previously documented hepadnaviruses. The level of divergence in protein sequences between WSHBV and other hepadnaviruses and the identification of an HBV-like sequence in an African cichlid provide evidence that a novel genus of the family Hepadnaviridae may need to be established that includes these hepatitis B-like viruses in fishes. Viral transcription was observed in 9.5% (16 of 169) of white suckers evaluated. The prevalence of hepatic tumors in these fish was 4.9%, and only 2.4% of fish were positive for both virus and hepatic tumors. These results are not sufficient to draw inferences regarding the association of WSHBV and carcinogenesis in white sucker.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science