Research Research Projects

Brain tissue from a progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy patient

Understanding the pathogenesis of a JC virus induced demyelinating disease in human brain

JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) infects greater than 50% of the human population worldwide. The virus is harbored asymptomatically in the urogenital system but in immunosuppressed or immunomodulated patients it reactivates, traffics to the brain infecting and destroying oligodendrocytes. The result is a rapidly progressing, debilitating, and often fatal demyelinating disease known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The focus of this project is to understand how expression of specific virus receptors leads to brain invasion and infection of glial cells by the virus.

Research Leads 


Serial sections from the brain of a progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) patient. Luxol fast blue and H&E staining (left panel) shows a demyelinated PML lesion at the gray and white matter junction. An adjacent section (right panel) immunostained with antibodies against serotonin receptor 2a (HTR2A) demonstrates that the lesion is surrounded by activated glial cells with increased expression of HTR2A, the entry receptor of the causative agent of PML, JC polyoma virus (JCPyV).