JC virus was examined for temperature sensitivity and for evidence of defective interfering particles as a means of explaining the slow chronic nature of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). JC virus direct from the brain tissue of seven persons with PML was not temperature sensitive as indicated by in vitro assay at 37 and 39 degrees C. In fact, more cells contained viral antigen at 39 than at 37 degrees C. The amount of infectious virus also was increased at 39 degrees C. Virions isolated directly from diseased brain tissue had a higher buoyant density than did virus from the same PML patient passaged in culture and containing genomic deletions. In contrast to DNA from culture-passed virus, DNA extracted from virions direct from brain tissue was homogeneous in length. In 13 separate cases examined, the viral DNA direct from the brain was homogeneous although variations in length were noted among DNAs from different cases. Restriction enzyme cleavage patterns identified all as JC virus DNA. It was concluded that neither temperature sensitivity nor DI particles can be used to explain the slow, progressive nature of PML
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