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Viral Immunol. 2001;14(3):199-216.

Immunity to polyoma virus infection and tumorigenesis.

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Department of Pathology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Because oncogenic DNA viruses establish persistent infections in humans, continuous immunosurveillance for neoplastic cells is required to prevent virus-induced tumors. Antigen-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes are critical in vivo effectors for eliminating virus-infected and virus-transformed cells. Investigation into the induction, regulation, and maintenance of CD8+ T cells specific for these viruses is hindered by the lack of tractable animal models that mimic natural infection. Resistance to tumors induced by polyoma virus, a persistent natural mouse DNA virus, is mediated by polyoma-specific CD8+ T cells. Mice susceptible to polyoma virus tumorigenesis mount a smaller, albeit still considerable, expansion of anti-polyoma CD8+ T cells; importantly, these antiviral CD8+ T cells lack cytotoxic activity while retaining the phenotype of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) effectors. In this review, we will discuss potential in vivo mechanisms that regulate the functional competence of anti-polyoma CD8+ T cells, particularly in the context of chronic antigenic stimulation provided by persistent viral infections and tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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