Source Unidad Mixta "Genómica y Salud" CSISP, Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Universidad de Valencia, Catedrático José Beltrán 2, E-46980 Paterna, Valencia, Spain; E-Mails: email@example.com (F.X.L.-L.); firstname.lastname@example.org (M.A.B.).
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a Flavivirus with a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA genome of about 9,600 nucleotides. It is a major cause of liver disease, infecting almost 200 million people all over the world. Similarly to most RNA viruses, HCV displays very high levels of genetic diversity which have been used to differentiate six major genotypes and about 80 subtypes. Although the different genotypes and subtypes share basic biological and pathogenic features they differ in clinical outcomes, response to treatment and epidemiology. The first HCV recombinant strain, in which different genome segments derived from parentals of different genotypes, was described in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 2002. Since then, there have been only a few more than a dozen reports including descriptions of HCV recombinants at all levels: between genotypes, between subtypes of the same genotype and even between strains of the same subtype. Here, we review the literature considering the reasons underlying the difficulties for unequivocally establishing recombination in this virus along with the analytical methods necessary to do it. Finally, we analyze the potential consequences, especially in clinical practice, of HCV recombination in light of the coming new therapeutic approaches against this virus.