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Keywords:

  • BKV sequences;
  • Germany;
  • phylogenetic analysis;
  • clinical picture;
  • ethnicity;
  • geographical distribution

Abstract

The primary infection with human polyomavirus BK (BKV) occurs in early childhood and leads to viral latency within the urogenital tract. Up to 90% of the adult population are seropositive. In immunosuppressed patients, the BKV may be reactivated resulting in typical disease patterns like hemorrhagic cystitis and tubulointerstitial nephritis. Based on serological and molecular methods, BKV isolates were classified into four subtypes previously. Sixty specimens obtained from German renal and bone marrow transplant recipients were analyzed to gain data on the prevalence of BKV subtypes in Germany. With 90.9%, BKV subtype I was found to be predominant in both patient groups. 6.1% of BKV strains were classified as subtype IV. This pattern of phylogenetic distribution is similar to that demonstrated previously in England, Tanzania, the United States and Japan. Remarkably, there was one German BKV virus with a sequence which clusters together with strain SB in subtype II. The BKV subtype I was found to consist of at least three subgroups designated as Ia, Ib, and Ic. While the majority of the German sequences represent subgroup Ic, most of the Japanese sequences are clearly distinct. These findings support the hypothesis of distinct geographical prevalence of BKV subgroups. For the genotyping region, a relationship of BKV subgroups to disease patterns like hemorrhagic cystitis or tubulointerstitial nephritis could not be demonstrated. J. Med. Virol. 78:1588–1598, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.