Chirohepevirus from Bats: Insights into Hepatitis E Virus Diversity and Evolution

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2022-04-27

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MDPI

Abstract

Homologs of the human hepatitis E virus (HEV) have been identified in more than a dozen animal species. Some of them have been evidenced to cross species barriers and infect humans. Zoonotic HEV infections cause chronic liver diseases as well as a broad range of extrahepatic manifestations, which increasingly become significant clinical problems. Bats comprise approximately one-fifth of all named mammal species and are unique in their distinct immune response to viral infection. Most importantly, they are natural reservoirs of several highly pathogenic viruses, which have induced severe human diseases. Since the first discovery of HEV-related viruses in bats in 2012, multiple genetically divergent HEV variants have been reported in a total of 12 bat species over the last decade, which markedly expanded the host range of the HEV family and shed light on the evolutionary origin of human HEV. Meanwhile, bat-borne HEV also raised critical public health concerns about its zoonotic potential. Bat HEV strains resemble genomic features but exhibit considerable heterogeneity. Due to the close evolutionary relationships, bat HEV altogether has been recently assigned to an independent genus, Chirohepevirus. This review focuses on the current state of bat HEV and provides novel insights into HEV genetic diversity and molecular evolution.

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Wang, B.; Yang, X.-L. Chirohepevirus from Bats: Insights into Hepatitis E Virus Diversity and Evolution. Viruses 2022, 14, 905.