Archives of virology 2017 09 07() doi 10.1007/s00705-017-3542-7
John Cunningham virus (JCPyV) is an ubiquitous human pathogen that causes disease in immunocompromised patients. The JCPyV genome is composed of an early region and a late region, which are physically separated by the non-coding control region (NCCR). The DNA sequence of the NCCR distinguishes two forms of JCPyV, the designated archetype and the prototype, which resulted from a rearrangement of the archetype sequence. To date, the cell culture systems for propagating JCPyV archetype have been very limited in their availability and robustness. Prior to this study, it was demonstrated that JCPyV archetype DNA replicates in COS-7 simian kidney cells expressing SV40 TAg and COS-7 cells expressing HIV-1 Tat. Based on these observations, the present study was conducted to reproduce an in vitro model in COS-7 cells transfected with the JCPyV archetype strain in order to study JCPyV DNA replication and analyze NCCR rearrangements during the viral life cycle. The efficiency of JCPyV replication was evaluated by quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) and by hemagglutination (HA) assay after transfection. In parallel, sequence analysis of JCPyV NCCR was performed. JCPyV efficiently replicated in kidney-derived COS-7 cells, as demonstrated by a progressive increase in viral load and virion particle production after transfection. The archetypal structure of NCCR was maintained during the viral cycle, but two characteristic point mutations were detected 28 days after transfection. This model is a useful tool for analyzing NCCR rearrangements during in vitro replication in cells that are sites of viral persistence, such as tubular epithelial cells of the kidney.