Slow evolutionary rate of GB virus C/hepatitis G virus.
With the aim of elucidating evolutionary features of GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV), molecular evolutionary analyses were conducted using the entire coding region of this virus. In particular, the rate of nucleotide substitution for this virus was estimated to be less than 9.0 x 10(-6) per site per year, which was much slower than those for other RNA viruses. The phylogenetic tree reconstructed for GBV-C/HGV, by using GB virus A (GBV-A) as outgroup, indicated that there were three major clusters (the HG, GB, and Asian types) in GBV-C/HGV, and the divergence between the ancestor of GB- and Asian-type strains and that of HG-type strains first took place more than 7000-10,000 years ago. The slow evolutionary rate for GBV-C/HGV suggested that this virus cannot escape from the immune response of the host by means of producing escape mutants, implying that it may have evolved other systems for persistent infection.