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J Infect Dis. 2010 Jul 15;202(2):184-91. doi: 10.1086/653823.

Human polyomavirus JC (JCV) infection of human B lymphocytes: a possible mechanism for JCV transmigration across the blood-brain barrier.

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Retrovirology Research Laboratory, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology, John A Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.


It has been suggested that JC virus (JCV) might travel to the central nervous system in infected B cells. Moreover, recent data suggest the presence of JCV in bone marrow plasma cells. However, the evidence for infection and replication of JCV in B cells is unclear. To address this question, we infected Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B cells with JCV and found that the viral genome decreased >1000-fold from days 0 to 20 after infection, which concurred with the absence of viral early and late messenger RNA transcripts and proteins. However, immunofluorescent images of B cells infected with fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated JCV demonstrated that JCV enters the B cells, and DNase protection assay confirmed the presence of intact JCV virions inside the B cells. Moreover, JCV-infected B cells were able to transmit infection to naive glial cells. These data confirm that JCV nonproductively infects B cells and possibly uses them as a vehicle for transmigration across the blood-brain barrier.

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