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J Gen Virol. 2004 Oct;85(Pt 10):2821-7.

Subtypes of BK virus prevalent in Japan and variation in their transcriptional control region.

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Department of Urology, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.


BK polyomavirus (BKV) is ubiquitous in the human population, infecting children without obvious symptoms, and persisting in the kidney in a latent state. In immunosuppressed patients, BKV is reactivated and excreted in urine. BKV isolates have been classified into four subtypes (I-IV) using either serological or genotyping methods. To elucidate the subtypes of BKV prevalent in Japan, the 287 bp typing region in the viral genome was PCR-amplified from urine samples of 45 renal transplant (RT) and 31 bone-marrow transplant (BMT) recipients. The amplified fragments were subjected to a phylogenetic or RFLP analysis to determine the subtypes of BKV isolates in urine samples. Subtypes I, II, III and IV were detected, respectively, in 70-80, 0, 2-3 and 10-20 % of the BKV-positive patients in both patient groups. This pattern of distribution was virtually identical to patterns previously demonstrated in England, Tanzania and the United States, suggesting that BKV subtypes are distributed similarly in various human populations. Furthermore, transcriptional control regions (TCRs) were PCR-amplified from the urine samples of 25 RT and 20 BMT recipients, and their nucleotide sequences were determined. The basic TCR structure (the so-called archetype configuration) was observed in most isolates belonging to subtypes I, III and IV (subtype II isolates were not available), albeit with several nucleotide substitutions and a few single-nucleotide deletions (or insertions). Only three TCRs carried extensive sequence rearrangements. Thus, it was concluded that the archetypal configuration of the BKV TCR has been conserved during the evolution of BKV.

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