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Abstract

The late region of the three primate polyomaviruses (JCV, BKV, and SV40) encodes a small, highly basic protein known as agnoprotein. While much attention during the last two decades has focused on the transforming proteins encoded by the early region (small and large T-antigens), it has become increasingly evident that agnoprotein has a critical role in the regulation of viral gene expression and replication, and in the modulation of certain important host cell functions including cell cycle progression and DNA repair. The importance of agnoprotein is underscored by its expression during lytic infection of glial cells by JCV that occurs in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), and also in some JCV-associated human neural tumors particularly medulloblastoma. In this review, we will discuss the structure and function of agnoprotein in the viral life cycle during the course of lytic infection and the consequences of agnoprotein expression for the host cell. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.