Rearrangement in the Hypervariable Region of JC Polyomavirus Genomes Isolated from Patient Samples and Impact on Transcription Factor-Binding Sites and Disease Outcomes

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 May 20;23(10):5699. doi: 10.3390/ijms23105699.


JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) is the causative agent of the fatal, incurable, neurological disease, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The virus is present in most of the adult population as a persistent, asymptotic infection in the kidneys. During immunosuppression, JCPyV reactivates and invades the central nervous system. A main predictor of disease outcome is determined by mutations within the hypervariable region of the viral genome. In patients with PML, JCPyV undergoes genetic rearrangements in the noncoding control region (NCCR). The outcome of these rearrangements influences transcription factor binding to the NCCR, orchestrating viral gene transcription. This study examines 989 NCCR sequences from patient isolates deposited in GenBank to determine the frequency of mutations based on patient isolation site and disease status. The transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) were also analyzed to understand how these rearrangements could influence viral transcription. It was determined that the number of TFBS was significantly higher in PML samples compared to non-PML samples. Additionally, TFBS that could promote JCPyV infection were more prevalent in samples isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid compared to other locations. Collectively, this research describes the extent of mutations in the NCCR that alter TFBS and how they correlate with disease outcome.

Keywords: JC polyomavirus; NCCR; PML; mutations; transcription factors; viral genome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Humans
  • JC Virus* / genetics
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal* / virology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Transcription Factors