In addition to the previously characterized viruses BK and JC, three new human polyomaviruses (Pys) have been recently identified: KIV, WUV, and Merkel Cell Py (MCV). Using an ELISA employing recombinant VP1 capsid proteins, we have determined the seroprevalence of KIV, WUV, and MCV, along with BKV and JCV, and the monkey viruses SV40 and LPV. Soluble VP1 proteins were used to assess crossreactivity between viruses. We found the seroprevalence (+/− 1%) in healthy adult blood donors (1501) was SV40 (9%), BKV (82%), JCV (39%), LPV (15%), KIV (55%), WUV (69%), MCV strain 350 (25%), and MCV strain 339 (42%). Competition assays detected no sero-crossreactivity between the VP1 proteins of LPV or MCV or between WUV and KIV. There was considerable sero-crossreactivity between SV40 and BKV, and to a lesser extent, between SV40 and JCV VP1 proteins. After correcting for crossreactivity, the SV40 seroprevalence was ∼2%. The seroprevalence in children under 21 years of age (n = 721) for all Pys was similar to that of the adult population, suggesting that primary exposure to these viruses likely occurs in childhood.
Polyomaviruses occupy a replicative niche in animals from birds to humans. Two human polyomaviruses, BKV and JCV, were discovered in 1971 and within the last two years, three new polyomaviruses have been found in humans: KI (KIV), WU (WUV), and Merkel Cell (MCV) polyomavirus. MCV was identified in Merkel Cell carcinomas, a rare skin cancer. To date, it has not been determined what percentage of the human population is exposed to KIV, WUV, and MCV, and when initial exposure to these viruses occurs. We determined that initial exposure to KIV, WUV, and MCV occurs in childhood, similar to that for the known human polyomaviruses BKV and JCV, and that their prevalence is high. We also found evidence that a monkey virus, Lymphotropic Polyomavirus (LPV), likely has a serologically related human counterpart. Another monkey polyomavirus, SV40, was found at ∼2% prevalence, a level that does not support its role in human disease.