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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1998 Sep-Oct;93(5):615-23.

Molecular epidemiology of human polyomavirus JC in the Biaka Pygmies and Bantu of Central Africa.

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Neurotoxicology Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Polyomavirus JC (JCV) is ubiquitous in humans and causes a chronic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy which is common in AIDS. JCV is excreted in urine of 30-70% of adults worldwide. Based on sequence analysis of JCV complete genomes or fragments thereof, JCV can be classified into geographically derived genotypes. Types 1 and 2 are of European and Asian origin respectively while Types 3 and 6 are African in origin. Type 4, a possible recombinant of European and African genotypes (1 and 3) is common in the USA. To delineate the JCV genotypes in an aboriginal African population, random urine samples were collected from the Biaka Pygmies and Bantu from the Central African Republic. There were 43 males and 25 females aged 4-55 years, with an average age of 26 years. After PCR amplification of JCV in urine, products were directly cycle sequenced. Five of 23 Pygmy adults (22%) and four of 20 Bantu adults (20%) were positive for JC viruria. DNA sequence analysis revealed JCV Type 3 (two), Type 6 (two) and one Type 1 variant in Biaka Pygmies. All the Bantu strains were Type 6. Type 3 and 6 strains of JCV are the predominant strains in central Africa. The presence of multiple subtypes of JCV in Biaka Pygmies may be a result of extensive interactions of Pygmies with their African tribal neighbors during their itinerant movements in the equatorial forest.

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