Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is caused by JC polyomavirus (JCV) infection in the brain. JCV isolates from PML patients have variable mutations in the non-coding control region (NCCR) of the genome. This study was conducted to examine sequential changes in NCCR patterns of JCV isolates obtained from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of PML patients. CSF specimens were collected from PML patients at different time points, the NCCR sequences were determined, and their compositions were assessed by computer-based analysis. In patients showing a marked increase in JCV load, the most frequent NCCR sequences in the follow-up specimens were different from those in the initial samples. In contrast, the dominant NCCRs in the CSF remained unaltered during the follow-up of individuals in whom the viral load decreased after therapeutic intervention. These data demonstrate that the majority of JCV variants emerge with the progression of PML and that these changes are suppressed when the viral load is decreased.
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