RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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JC virus quasispecies analysis reveals a complex viral population underlying progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and supports viral dissemination via the hematogenous route.

Journal of Virology 2015 January 16
UNLABELLED: Opportunistic infection of oligodendrocytes by human JC polyomavirus may result in the development of progressive multifocal encephalopathy in immunocompromised individuals. Neurotropic JC virus generally harbors reorganized noncoding control region (NCCR) DNA interspersed on the viral genome between early and late coding genes. By applying 454 sequencing on NCCR DNA amplified from body fluid samples (urine, plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]) from 19 progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) patients, we attempted to reveal the composition of the JC polyomavirus population (the quasispecies, i.e., the whole of the consensus population and minor viral variants) contained in different body compartments and to better understand intrapatient viral dissemination. Our data demonstrate that in the CSF of PML patients, the JC viral population is often a complex mixture composed of multiple viral variants that contribute to the quasispecies. In contrast, urinary JC virus highly resembled the archetype virus, and urine most often did not contain minor viral variants. It also appeared that archetype JC virus could sporadically be identified in PML patient brain, although selection of rearranged JC virus DNA was favored. Comparison of the quasispecies from different body compartments within a given patient suggested a strong correlation between the viral population in plasma and CSF, whereas the viral population shed in urine appeared to be unrelated. In conclusion, it is shown that the representation of viral DNA in the CSF following the high-level DNA replication in the brain underlying PML has hitherto been much underestimated. Our data also underscore that the hematogenous route might play a pivotal role in viral dissemination from or toward the brain.

IMPORTANCE: For the first time, the JC polyomavirus population contained in different body compartments of patients diagnosed with progressive multifocal encephalopathy has been studied by deep sequencing. Two main findings came out of this work. First, it became apparent that the complexity of the viral population associated with PML has been highly underestimated so far, suggestive of a highly dynamic process of reorganization of the noncoding control region of JC polyomavirus in vivo, mainly in CSF and blood. Second, evidence showing viral dissemination from and/or toward the brain via the hematogenous route was provided, confirming a hypothesis that was recently put forward in the field.

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