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Microbes Infect. 2007 Feb;9(2):204-13. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Relationships between BK virus lineages and human populations.

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


BK polyomavirus (BKV) is ubiquitous in human populations, infecting children asymptomatically and then persisting in the kidney, in which it can cause nephropathy in renal transplant patients. BKV isolates are classified into four subtypes (I-IV) using serological or genotyping methods, and subtype I is further divided into four subgroups, Ia, Ib-1, Ib-2, and Ic, based on DNA sequence variations. To clarify whether there is an association between BK virus lineages and human populations, we examined BKV-positive urine samples collected from immunocompetent individuals at various locations in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Partial BKV DNA sequences (n=299) in these samples were determined and subjected to phylogenetic and single nucleotide polymorphism analysis to classify BKV isolates around the world. The validity of the classification was confirmed by analyses based on complete BKV DNA sequences. Subtype I was the major subtype throughout the studied regions, and subtype IV was prevalent only in Asia and Europe. Subtype-I subgroups showed close relationships to major geographical areas. It has recently been shown that JC virus (a human polyomavirus closely related to BKV) co-evolved with human populations, and the present study thus suggests that host-linked evolution is the general mode of polyomavirus evolution. Additionally, our results indicate certain unique aspects of the relationship between BKV and humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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