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Virchows Arch. 2005 Oct;447(4):723-30. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Detection of JC virus DNA sequences in colorectal cancers in Japan.

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First Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama, 930-0152, Japan,


JC virus (JCV), a ubiquitous polyoma virus that commonly infects humans, was first identified as the etiologic agent for the fetal demyelinating disease, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Recently, a number of reports have documented detection of JCV in samples derived from several types of neural as well as non-neural human tumors. It has been suggested that oncogenicity of JCV depends on a T antigen having a strict structural homology to the T antigen of simian virus 40. To clarify whether JCV might have a potential role with regard to colorectal cancers, we investigated the presence of its genome in a series of cases along with colorectal adenomas and normal colonic mucosa, targeting T antigen, VP and agnoprotein by nested polymerase chain reaction and Southern blotting and T antigen by immunohistochemistry. While VP and agnoprotein were not found in any of the samples examined, T antigen was detected in 6 of 23 colorectal cancers (26.1%) and 1 of 21 adenomas (4.8%), but none of 20 samples of normal colonic mucosa. No clear and diffuse staining with anti-T-antigen antibodies (1:100) could be detected, and there was no correlation with CD20-positive cells, which might have indicated JCV latent infection of B lymphocytes. Presence of T antigen did not influence clinicopathological variables, including survival. In one colonic cancer case positive for T antigen together with lymph node metastasis, DNA extracted from cancer cells in the lymph node revealed no detection of T antigen. Our results are in the intermediate position between the high T antigen rate (81%) in one report and the lack of it (0%) in another focused on colon cancers. It was concluded that T antigen might be integrated in cancer cells in approximately one fourth of Japanese colon cancer cases without clear and diffuse expression of the protein, suggesting a possible role in oncogenesis which might involve a hit-and-run mechanism.

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