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Abstract Type III interferons (IFN-λ) are part of the innate immune response to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection however the specific role of IFN-λ4 and the nature of the viral adaption to this pressure have not been defined. Here we use paired genome-wide human and viral genetic data in 485 patients infected with HCV genotype 3a to explore the role of IFN-λ4 on HCV evolution during chronic infection. We show that genetic variations within the host IFNL4 locus have a broad and systematic impact on HCV amino acid diversity. We also demonstrate that this impact is larger in patients producing a more active form of IFN-λ4 protein compared to the less active form. A similar observation was noted for viral load. We conclude that IFN-λ4 protein is a likely causal agent driving widespread HCV amino acid changes and associated with viral load and possibly other clinical and biological outcomes of HCV infection.

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Journal article

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STOP-HCV Consortium