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Frequency and Large T (LT) Sequence of JC Polyomavirus DNA in Oligodendrocytes, Astrocytes and Granular Cells in Non-PML Brain


Julianne Bayliss, BBiomedSci (Hons), PhD, Department of Medicine, Monash University, Level Seven, Alfred Centre, Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia (E-mail: )


Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and JCV granular cell neuronopathy occur secondary to JCV polyomavirus (JCV) infection of oligodendrocytes and cerebellar granular cell neurons (CGNs) during immunosuppression. Pure populations of astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, CGNs and microglia from frontal cortex and cerebellum of 17 non-PML patients (9 immunocompetent; 8 immunosuppressed) were isolated by laser capture microdissection (LCM). JCV large T (LT) antigen DNA was detected by triple nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sequence analysis was performed to assess LT gene variation. JCV DNA was detected in oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and CGNs of non-PML brains. The most common site for viral latency was cortical oligodendrocytes (65% of samples analyzed). Immunosuppressed patients were significantly more likely to harbor JCV DNA in CGN populations than immunocompetent patients (P = 0.01). Sequence analysis of the LT region revealed eight novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four immunosuppressed patients. Of the eight novel SNPs detected, six were silent and two resulted in amino acid changes. JCV DNA is present within cells of the non-PML brain, known to be infected during PML and granular cell neuronopathy. This supports the argument for a brain only reservoir of JCV and supports the hypothesis that reactivation of latent brain JCV may be central to disease pathogenesis.