High multiplicity BK virus (BKV) infection of primary cells derived from human foetal pancreas resulted in massive cytopathology and subsequent outgrowth of cells. Intranuclear BKV T-antigen was present in all cells and viral antigen was detected in 10 to 30% of these cells. The subcultured cells yielded BKV in the supernatant (approx. 10 TCID/ml) and in the cells free viral DNA was present (approx. 10% of total cellular DNA content). Analysis of the viral DNA indicated the presence of deleted and rearranged BKV DNA molecules. Although all cells continuously expressed BKV T-antigen they did not exhibit the transformed phenotype. This persistent infection of human foetal pancreas cells represents a novel type of interaction between BKV and human cells which may correspond to the findings on BKV tropism for pancreatic cells.

Keyword(s): BK virus , pancreas and persistence

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