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Virology. 2002 Sep 1;300(2):282-90.

Construction of a novel JCV/SV40 hybrid virus (JCSV) reveals a role for the JCV capsid in viral tropism.

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Northwestern University Finberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


JC virus (JCV) is a common human polyomavirus that infects greater than 70% of the general population worldwide. JCV is also the causative agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a fatal demyelinating disease of the CNS. Currently, little is known about the mechanisms that restrict JCV tropism to a few human cell types and tissues. In vivo, JCV can be detected in oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in the CNS of patients with PML. The virus can also be detected in kidney, tonsil, and B lymphocytes of patients both with and without PML. In vitro, JCV can only be propagated in cultures of human fetal glial cells or in cell lines derived from this tissue. In contrast, the closely related monkey polyomavirus, SV40, has a broad tropism for primate cells, including those cells that are also susceptible to infection by JCV. We hypothesized that one potential block to infection is at the level of virus entry. To examine this, we constructed a JCV-SV40 chimeric viral genome that contains the regulatory region and the early genes of SV40 and the late structural genes of JCV. The hybrid virus (JCSV) induced SV40-like cytopathic effect in human glial cells and hemagglutinated human type O red blood cells similar to JCV. More importantly, the hybrid virus maintained the host range of JCV, suggesting that interactions between the virus capsid and host cell receptors contribute to JCV tropism.

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