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Human polyomaviruses are widespread in humans and can cause severe disease in immunocompromised individuals. To identify human genetic determinants of the humoral immune response against polyomaviruses, we performed genome-wide association studies and meta-analyses of qualitative and quantitative immunoglobulin G responses against BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), JC polyomavirus (JCPyV), Merkel cellpolyomavirus (MCPyV), WU polyomavirus (WUPyV), and human polyomavirus 6 (HPyV6) in 15,660 individuals of European ancestry from three independent studies. We observed significant associations for all tested viruses: JCPyV, HPyV6, and MCPyV associated with human leukocyte antigen class II variation, BKPyV and JCPyV with variants in FUT2, responsible for secretor status, MCPyV with variants in STING1, involved in interferon induction, and WUPyV with a functional variant in MUC1, previously associated with risk for gastric cancer. These results provide insights into the genetic control of a family of very prevalent human viruses, highlighting genes and pathways that play a modulating role in human humoral immunity.

Original publication




Journal article


Virus evolution

Publication Date





Global Health Institute, School of Life Sciences, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.