Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a fatal disease caused by reactivation of JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) in immunosuppressed individuals and lytic infection by neurotropic JCPyV in glial cells. The exact content of neurotropic mutations within individual JCPyV strains has not been studied to our knowledge.We exploited the capacity of single-molecule real-time sequencing technology to determine the sequence of complete JCPyV genomes in single reads. The method was used to precisely characterize individual neurotropic JCPyV strains of 3 patients with PML without the bias caused by assembly of short sequence reads.In the cerebrospinal fluid sample of a 73-year-old woman with rapid PML onset, 3 distinct JCPyV populations could be identified. All viral populations were characterized by rearrangements within the noncoding regulatory region (NCCR) and 1 point mutation, S267L in the VP1 gene, suggestive of neurotropic strains. One patient with PML had a single neurotropic strain with rearranged NCCR, and 1 patient had a single strain with small NCCR alterations.We report here, for the first time, full characterization of individual neurotropic JCPyV strains in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with PML. It remains to be established whether PML pathogenesis is driven by one or several neurotropic strains in an individual.
Journal: The Journal of infectious diseases