The human polyomavirus JC (JCV) typically infects glial cells and is the aetiological agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which occurs in immunosuppressed individuals. The full-length sequence of a granule cell neuron-tropic JCV variant, JCVGCN1, associated with lytic infection of granule cell neurons and cerebellar atrophy in a human immunodeficiency virus-infected patient with PML was determined and compared with the sequence of the JCV isolate from the classic PML lesions present in the hemispheric white matter of the same individual (JCVHWM). A unique deletion was found in the C terminus of the VP1 gene of JCVGCN1, which encodes the major capsid protein, resulting in a frame shift and a total change of the C-terminal amino acid sequence of this protein. This deletion was not present in JCVHWM, suggesting that this mutation may be instrumental in facilitating entry or replication of JCV into granule cell neurons.
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