Direct sequencing and analysis of viral genomes are definitive methods for identifying various hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes. However, HCV genome sequencing methods are cumbersome and unsuitable for analyzing large numbers of clinical samples. We have developed a convenient, reliable, and reproducible RIBA strip immunoblot assay system for determining HCV serotype. Briefly, the assay consists of an immunoblot strip on which there are five lanes of immobilized serotype-specific HCV peptides from the nonstructural (NS-4) and core regions of the genomes of HCV types 1, 2, and 3. HCV serotype is deduced by determining the greatest intensity of reactivity to the NS-4 serotype-specific HCV peptide band in relation to the intensity of the human immunoglobulin G internal control bands on each strip. HCV core peptide reactivity is used only in the absence of NS-4 reactivity. We used this assay to successfully serotype a high percentage of sera from well-documented HCV- infected patients. Our serotyping results correlated 99% with the findings from the standard restriction fragment length polymorphism genotyping methods. Less than 5% of the serum samples were untypeable. For a selected group of alpha interferon-treated patients we observed that the nonresponders (76.2%) and a majority of the responders who relapsed (72.2%) had type 1 HCV infection. A small population (n = 8) of complete responders was split 3:4:1 as type 1, type 2, and type 3, respectively. Our data indicate that this new serotyping assay has the potential to be a highly specific and reliable method for typing of HCV infection in patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)