Detection of JC virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in healthy individuals

R. A. Du Pasquier, J. E. Schmitz, J. Jean-Jacques, Y. Zheng, J. Gordon, K. Khalili, N. L. Letvin, I. J. Koralnik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The polyomavirus JC (JCV) infects 85% of healthy individuals, and its reactivation in a limited number of immunosuppressed people causes progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a severe demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. We hypothesized that JCV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) might control JCV replication in healthy individuals, blocking the evolution of PML. Using 51Cr release and tetramer staining assays, we show that 8 of 11 HLA-A*0201+ healthy subjects (73%) harbor detectable JCV-specific CD8+ CTLs that recognize one or two epitopes of JCV VP1 protein, the HLA-A*0201- restricted VP1p36 and VP1p100 epitopes. We determined that the frequency of JCV VP1 epitope-specific CTLs varied from less than 1/100,000 to 1/2,494 peripheral blood mononuclear cells. More individuals had JCV VP1-specific than cytomegalovirus-specific CTLs (8 of 11 subjects [73%] versus 2 of 10 subjects [20%], respectively). These results show that a CD8 +-T-cell response against JCV is commonly found in immunocompetent people and suggest that these cells might protect against the development of PML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10206-10210
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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