TT virus (TTV) is a newly described DNA virus of humans that exhibits an unusually high degree of genetic heterogeneity. We have performed extensive analysis of the TTV populations present in samples, taken over a period of 2 to 6 years, from three individuals with persistent TTV infection. TTV DNA titres estimated for sequential samples were found to be quite stable over the entire study period in two patients, but fluctuated considerably in the third. DNA sequence analysis revealed different genetic diversity among TTV populations from samples from the three patients. In one case, absolute sequence homogeneity was observed among samples over a 3 year period. In a second, a limited amount of heterogeneity was found, including one sequence exhibiting G-->A hypermutation. TTV DNA sequences from the third patient exhibited quite remarkable genetic heterogeneity: evidence was found of seven distinct infecting viruses, representing four of the six TTV genotypes that have been described. In addition, minor variants of three of these seven sequences were observed. The heterogeneity of the viral population in this individual declined steadily over a 6 year period. This patient infected with a genetically diverse TTV population had the highest viral DNA titre.


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