Distinct genotypes of human polyomavirus JC (JCV) have remained population associated possibly from the time of dispersal of modern humans from Africa. Seven major genotypes with additional subtypes serve as plausible markers for following early and more recent human migrations in all parts of the world. Phylogenetic trees of JCV sequences from the major continental population groups show a trifurcation at the base indicating early division into European, African, and Asian branches. Here, we have explored JCV relationships in the island populations of the western Pacific. Since these islands were settled from the Asian mainland and islands of Southeast Asia, we expected that their virus genotypes might show an Asian connection. We found that Type 2E (Austronesian) and Type 8 (non-Austronesian) are widely distributed in western Pacific populations. A few south China strains were found (Type 7A). A subtype of Type 8, Type 8A, was confined to Papua New Guinea. In keeping with these assignments we find that phylogenetic analysis by neighbor-joining and maximum parsimony methods places Type 2E in a closer relationship to east Asian mainland strains such as Type 2A and Type 7. Our findings support the Asian origins of the western Pacific JCV strains, and suggest three broad movements: an ancient one characterized by Type 8A, and then Type 8B, followed much later by migrations carrying Type 2E, which may correlate with the arrival of Austronesian-language speakers, the bearers of the "Lapita" cultural complex (~3,500 to 5,000 years ago), and relatively recent movements carrying largely Type 7A (south China) strains directly from the West. [End Page 473]


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