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J Virol. 2004 Nov;78(21):11583-90.

Infection of vero cells by BK virus is dependent on caveolae.

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Graduate Program in Pathology, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Brown University, Box G-B616, 171 Meeting St., Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Polyomavirus-associated nephropathy occurs in approximately 5% of renal transplant recipients and results in loss of graft function in 50 to 70% of these patients. The disease is caused by reactivation of the common human polyomavirus BK (BKV) in the transplanted kidney. The early events in productive BKV infection are unknown. In this report, we focus on elucidating the mechanisms of BKV internalization in its target cell. Our data reveal that BKV entry into permissive Vero cells is slow, is independent of clathrin-coated-pit assembly, is dependent on an intact caveolin-1 scaffolding domain, is sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibition, and requires cholesterol. BKV colocalizes with the caveola-mediated endocytic marker cholera toxin subunit B but not with the clathrin-dependent endocytic marker transferrin. In addition, BKV infectious entry is sensitive to elevation in intracellular pH. These findings indicate that BKV entry into Vero cells occurs by caveola-mediated endocytosis involving a pH-dependent step.

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