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  • Open Access

Hepatitis C virus core protein substitutions affect the response to pegylated-interferon and ribavirin therapy

  • 1,
  • 1, 2, 3,
  • 1,
  • 4, 5,
  • 6,
  • 7 and
  • 1, 3, 4Email author
BMC Genomics201415 (Suppl 2) :P5

  • Published:


  • Core Protein
  • Virus Core
  • Advanced Software
  • Protein Substitution
  • Saudi Population


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) shows remarkable genetic diversity, which contributes to its high persistence and varied susceptibilities to antiviral treatments. Previous studies have reported that the substitution of amino acids in the HCV-1b core region at positions 70 (Arg70 to Gln70) and/or 91 (Lue91 to Met91) is associated with a poor response to pegylated- interferon and ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) therapy [1, 2]. Because the role of the core protein in HCV infections is unclear in Saudi populations, we aimed in this study to analyze the full-length core protein sequences from Saudi patients.

Materials and methods

A total of 300 samples were obtained from Saudi patients who went through PEG-IFN/RBV treatment. Samples were divided further to responder and non-responder groups. Direct sequencing was employed, followed by sequence analyses using advanced software.


Our data showed that there was significant association between core protein mutations, particularly at position 70, and treatment outcome in HCV1b and HCV-4d but not in HCV-1a and HCV-4a clinical samples. In addition, amino acid residue at position 91 was well-conserved among all clinical samples where Cys91 is the dominant amino acid residue. Furthermore, our data reported point mutations at different positions that were flagged as ‘rare’ mutations by negative BLOSUM scores.


Amino acid substitution pattern differs substantially among HCV sub-genotypes. Such discrepancy needs further investigations. Our finding provides a new insight into HCV among effected Saudi population where the knowledge of HCV polymorphisms is lacking.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Infection and Immunity, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Liver Disease Research Center, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Hepatobiliary Sciences and Liver Transplantation, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Department of Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


  1. Akuta N, Suzuki F, Kawamura Y, Yatsuji H, Sezaki H, Suzuki Y, Hosaka T, Kobayashi M, Arase Y, Ikeda K, Kumada H: Predictive factors of early and sustained responses to peginterferon plus ribavirin combination therapy in Japanese patients infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b: amino acid substitutions in the core region and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. J Hepatol. 2007, 46: 403-410.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
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© Alhamlan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.