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Biological Phenomena, Cell Phenomena, and Immunity | Cell Biology | Immunology of Infectious Disease | Immunopathology | Nervous System | Nervous System Diseases | Virology | Virus Diseases | Viruses


The human polyomavirus, JCPyV, is the causative agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in immunosuppressed and immunomodulated patients. Initial infection with JCPyV is common and the virus establishes a long-term persistent infection in the urogenital system of 50-70% of the human population worldwide. A major gap in the field is that we do not know how the virus traffics from the periphery to the brain to cause disease. Our recent discovery that human choroid plexus epithelial cells are fully susceptible to virus infection together with reports of JCPyV infection of choroid plexus in vivo has led us to hypothesize that the choroid plexus plays a fundamental role in this process. The choroid plexus is known to relay information between the blood and the brain by the release of extracellular vesicles. This is particularly important because human macroglia (oligodendrocytes and astrocytes), the major targets of virus infection in the central nervous system (CNS), do not express the known attachment receptors for the virus and do not bind virus in human tissue sections. In this report we show that JCPyV infected choroid plexus epithelial cells produce extracellular vesicles that contain JCPyV and readily transmit the infection to human glial cells. Transmission of the virus by extracellular vesicles is independent of the known virus attachment receptors and is not neutralized by antisera directed at the virus. We also show that extracellular vesicles containing virus are taken into target glial cells by both clathrin dependent endocytosis and macropinocytosis. Our data support the hypothesis that the choroid plexus plays a fundamental role in the dissemination of virus to brain parenchyma.


Vesicles, Choroid plexus, Epithelial cells, Central nervous system, Antibodies, Cell immortalization, Immune serum, Astrocytes

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Copyright: © 2020 O’Hara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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O'Hara BA, Morris-Love J, Gee GV, Haley SA, Atwood WJ. JC Virus infected choroid plexus epithelial cells produce extracellular vesicles that infect glial cells independently of the virus attachment receptor. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Mar 4;16(3):e1008371. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008371. PMID: 32130281; PMCID: PMC7075641. Link to article on publisher's site

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PLoS pathogens

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.