Fifty Years of JC Polyomavirus: A Brief Overview and Remaining Questions

Viruses
Abigail L Atkinson, Walter J Atwood

Abstract

In the fifty years since the discovery of JC polyomavirus (JCPyV), the body of research representing our collective knowledge on this virus has grown substantially. As the causative agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), an often fatal central nervous system disease, JCPyV remains enigmatic in its ability to live a dual lifestyle. In most individuals, JCPyV reproduces benignly in renal tissues, but in a subset of immunocompromised individuals, JCPyV undergoes rearrangement and begins lytic infection of the central nervous system, subsequently becoming highly debilitating-and in many cases, deadly. Understanding the mechanisms allowing this process to occur is vital to the development of new and more effective diagnosis and treatment options for those at risk of developing PML. Here, we discuss the current state of affairs with regards to JCPyV and PML; first summarizing the history of PML as a disease and then discussing current treatment options and the viral biology of JCPyV as we understand it. We highlight the foundational research published in recent years on PML and JCPyV and attempt to outline which next steps are most necessary to reduce the disease burden of PML in populations at risk.

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Related Concepts

CNS Disorder
Diagnosis
Gene Rearrangement
JC Virus
Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal
Polyomavirus
Research
Virus
Immunocompromised Host
Medical History

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