Whole Genome Sequencing of Hepatitis A Virus Using a PCR-Free Single-Molecule Nanopore Sequencing Approach

Frederico M. Batista*, Tina Stapleton, James A. Lowther, Vera G. Fonseca, Rebecca Shaw, Christopher Pond, David I. Walker, Ronny van Aerle, Jaime Martinez-Urtaza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is one of the most common causes of acute viral hepatitis in humans. Although HAV has a relatively small genome, there are several factors limiting whole genome sequencing such as PCR amplification artefacts and ambiguities in de novo assembly. The recently developed Oxford Nanopore technologies (ONT) allows single-molecule sequencing of long-size fragments of DNA or RNA using PCR-free strategies. We have sequenced the whole genome of HAV using a PCR-free approach by direct reverse-transcribed sequencing. We were able to sequence HAV cDNA and obtain reads over 7 kilobases in length containing almost the whole genome of the virus. The comparison of these raw long nanopore reads with the HAV reference wild type revealed a nucleotide sequence identity between 81.1 and 96.6%. By de novo assembly of all HAV reads we obtained a consensus sequence of 7362 bases, with a nucleotide sequence identity of 99.0% with the genome of the HAV strain pHM175/18f. When the assembly was performed using as reference the HAV strain pHM175/18f a consensus with a sequence similarity of 99.8 % was obtained. We have also used an ONT amplicon-based assay to sequence two fragments of the VP3 and VP1 regions which showed a sequence similarity of 100% with matching regions of the consensus sequence obtained using the direct cDNA sequencing approach. This study showed the applicability of ONT sequencing technologies to obtain the whole genome of HAV by direct cDNA nanopore sequencing, highlighting the utility of this PCR-free approach for HAV characterization and potentially other viruses of the Picornaviridae family.

Original languageEnglish
Article number874
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • Picornaviridae
  • SNV
  • genome
  • hepatitis A virus
  • metagenomics
  • nanopore sequencing


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