Infectious Entry and Neutralization of Pathogenic JC Polyomaviruses
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a lethal brain disease caused by uncontrolled replication of JC polyomavirus (JCV). JCV strains recovered from the brains of PML patients carry mutations that prevent the engagement of sialylated glycans, which are thought to serve as receptors for the infectious entry of wild-type JCV. In this report, we show that non-sialylated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) can serve as alternative attachment receptors for the infectious entry of both wild-type and PML mutant JCV strains. After GAG-mediated attachment, PML mutant strains engage non-sialylated non-GAG co-receptor glycans, such as asialo-GM1. JCV-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies isolated from patients who recovered from PML appear to block infection by preventing the docking of post-attachment co-receptor glycans in an apical pocket of the JCV major capsid protein. Identification of the GAG-dependent/sialylated glycan-independent alternative entry pathway should facilitate the development of infection inhibitors, including recombinant neutralizing antibodies.