Five major genotypes of JC virus (JCV) have been defined based on nucleotide differences in the VP1 gene of the DNA sequence. These types are probably a result of virus evolution in geographically isolated population groups. One of the first genotypes identified, Type 2, was found to represent strains of Asian origin. In order to further define the spectrum within Type 2 strains, the entire 5.1 kb genome of nine urinary strains of JCV was amplified by PCR with one pair of primers. These urine samples were obtained in the USA (California and New Mexico) from three European Americans, three Native Americans, two African Americans and one Hispanic American. The complete genome of an Asian JCV strain (Tokyo-1) isolated from progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) brain in Japan was also sequenced. Here, we report the analysis of these ten DNA sequences and their deduced protein translations. Two phylogenetically distinct subtypes of Type 2 were found, 2A and 2B, which differ from each other by 0.8-1.1% of the coding region sequence. A 215 bp product amplified with primers in the VP1 gene contains enough sequence information to distinguish the major types and subtypes of JCV and is suitable for application in viral epidemiological studies. The investigation of these genomic variations is of special interest because JCV Type 2 strains are found at a significantly higher frequency in brain tissue of patients with PML than would be predicted from their excretion in a control population.


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