Molecular analysis of JC virus genotypes circulating among the Italian healthy population

Elisabetta Pagani, Serena Delbue, Roberta Mancuso, Elisa Borghi, Letizia Tarantini, Pasquale Ferrante

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JC virus (JCV) is an unique virus, but eight different JCV genotypes and various subtypes have been individuated, with a geographic distribution that has been described in general but still needs to be detailed. To define JCV genotype epidemiology in Italy, the authors collected urine from 211 healthy individuals living in Northern, Central, and Southern Continental Italy, and in the two main Italian islands. As screening, JCV DNA was searched using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) designed to amplify the highly conserved large T (LT) antigen-coding region. Then, to define JCV genotype and trascriptional control region (TCR) organization, fragments of major capsid protein (VP1) and TCR region were amplified and subjected to nucleotide sequencing. The mean frequency of JCV viruria was of 46%, without differences among the four geographically divided groups and between females and males. JCV types 1 and 4 were the most frequently detected, whereas JCV type 2 was rare, and type 3 was found only in one subject. The low frequency of JCV type 2 contrasts with the reported high frequency of this subtype in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), and supports its specific role in PML. The data indicate that JCV genotype epidemiology in Italy is quite different from that of other European countries; moreover, differences between the various Italian regions have been observed. An unexpected high frequency of a new variant of JCV type 4 with a stable point mutation (C → G) at nucleotide 1851 was found. Furthermore, all the urinary strains had a TCR showing an archetypal organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-566
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • JCV genotypes
  • JCV subtypes
  • JCV viruria
  • Transcriptional control region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Clinical Neurology


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