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Fate of the Urinary Tract Virus BK Human Polyomavirus in Source-Separated Urine

We studied the fate of infectious double-stranded DNA BK human polyomavirus in hydrolyzed source-separated urine with infectivity assays and quantitative PCR.

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Abstract:

Human polyomaviruses are emerging pathogens that infect a large percentage of the human population and are excreted in urine. Consequently, urine that is collected for fertilizer production often has high concentrations of polyomavirus genes. We studied the fate of infectious double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) BK human polyomavirus (BKPyV) in hydrolyzed source-separated urine with infectivity assays and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Although BKPyV genomes persisted in the hydrolyzed urine for long periods of time (T90 [time required for 90% reduction in infectivity or gene copies] of >3 weeks), the viruses were rapidly inactivated (T90 of 1.1 to 11 h) in most of the tested urine samples. Interestingly, the infectivity of dsDNA bacteriophage surrogate T3 (T90 of 24 to 46 days) was much more persistent than that of BKPyV, highlighting a major shortcoming of using bacteriophages as human virus surrogates. Pasteurization and filtration experiments suggest that BKPyV virus inactivation was due to microorganism activity in the source-separated urine, and SDS-PAGE Western blots showed that BKPyV protein capsid disassembly is concurrent with inactivation. Our results imply that stored urine does not pose a substantial risk of BKPyV transmission, that qPCR and infectivity of the dsDNA surrogate do not accurately depict BKPyV fate, and that microbial inactivation is driven by structural elements of the BKPyV capsid.

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Citation:

Goetsch, Heather E., Zhao, Linbo, Gnegy, Mariah, Imperiale, Michael J., Love, Nancy G., Wigginton, Krista R., & Elkins, Christopher A. (2018). Fate of the Urinary Tract Virus BK Human Polyomavirus in Source-Separated Urine. Applied and Environmental Microbiology84(7). doi:10.1128/AEM.02374-17