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Thursday 6 October 2005

Definition: Polyomavirus is the sole genus of viruses within the family Polyomaviridae.


Murine polyomavirus was the first polyomavirus discovered by Ludwik Gross in 1953. Subsequently, many polyomaviruses have been found to infect birds and mammals.

Polyomaviruses have been extensively studied as tumor viruses in humans and animals, leading to fundamental insights into carcinogenesis, DNA replication and protein processing.

The tumor suppressor molecule p53 was discovered, for example, as a cellular protein bound by the major oncoprotein (cancer-causing protein) T antigen made by Simian vacuolating virus 40 (SV40).

The avian polyomavirus sometimes referred to as the Budgerigar fledgling disease virus is a frequent cause of death among caged birds.


Polyomaviruses are divided into three major clades or genetically-related groups: A SV40 clade, an avian clade (including the avian polyomavirus cause of Budgerigar Fledgling disease) and the murine polyomavirus clade.

Human polyomaviruses

- BK virus (BK polyomavirus)
- JC virus (JC polyomavirus)
- Merkel cell polyomavirus
- KI virus
- WU virus

Two recently discovered polyomaviruses, KI virus (Karolinska Institute) and WU virus (Washington University) viruses, are closely related to each other and have been isolated from respiratory secretions. In January 2008, a new virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus, was described and shown to cause most skin Merkel carcinoma.

All five polyomaviruses are highly common childhood and young adult infections. Most of these infections appear to cause little or no symptoms. These viruses are probably life-long persistent among almost all adults.


- polyoma virus nephropathy (PVN) of renal allografts

Diseases caused by human polyomavirus infections are most common among persons who become immunosuppressed by AIDS, old age or after transplantation and include Merkel cell carcinoma, PML and BK nephropathy.


- Wikipedia


- The human polyomaviruses, BKV and JCV: molecular pathogenesis of acute disease and potential role in cancer. Virology. 2000 Feb 1;267(1):1-7. PMID: 10648177

- A multiplex real-time PCR method for quantification of BK and JC polyomaviruses in renal transplant patients. Rubio L, Pinczewski J, Drachenberg CB, Vera-Sempere FJ, Zhao RY. Diagn Mol Pathol. 2010 Jun;19(2):105-11. PMID: 20502188