Hepatitis A virus evolution and the potential emergence of new variants escaping the presently available vaccines

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Abstract

Hepatitis A is the most common infection of the liver worldwide and is fecal–orally transmitted. Its incidence tends to decrease with improvements in hygiene conditions but at the same time its severity increases. Hepatitis A virus is the causative agent of acute hepatitis in humans and belongs to the Hepatovirus genus in the Picornaviridae family, and it has very unique characteristics. This article reviews some molecular and biological properties that allow the virus to live in a very quiescent way and to build an extremely stable capsid that is able to persist in and out of the body. Additionally, the relationship between the genomic composition and the structural and antigenic properties of the capsid is discussed, and the potential emergence of antigenic variants is evaluated from an evolutionary perspective.

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