Isolation of JC virus capsomer-like structures from progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy brain

Richard B. Tenser, Kenneth W. Sommerville, Jon G. Mummaw, Richard J. Frisque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Brain tissue from a patient with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) was analyzed by molecular biological and electron-microscopic techniques. Viral DNA was isolated directly from brain tissue, cloned into a plasmid vector, and subjected to restriction endonuclease analysis. The pattern of restriction fragments identified by gel electrophoresis was almost indistinguishable from that of prototype JC virus. By this procedure the etiologic agent of PML in this patient was identified without the isolation of infectious virus. After centrifugal clarification of brain homogenates, high speed centrifugal pellets were studied by electron microscopy. Large numbers of 9-nm polygonal particles, sometimes in paracrystalline arrays, were observed. It was thought likely that these particles were capsomer subunits of 41-43 nm JC virus virions. That the particles were capsomers was supported by negative stain electron microscopy, including reconstruction studies with simian virus 40.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the neurological sciences
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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