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Virology. 1992 Apr;187(2):734-47.

Heterogeneity in state and expression of viral DNA in polyoma virus-induced tumors of the mouse.

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Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032.


We have examined the state and expression of polyoma viral DNA in representative epithelial and mesenchymal tumors, using a combination of biochemical and in situ methods. Results showed wide variations among tumor types and also in different regions within individual tumors, with respect to copy number of viral DNA, presence or absence of deletions, and expression of early and late viral proteins. Epithelial tumors showed the greatest heterogeneity. High copy free viral DNA, frequently with deletions, was found in all such tumors. A portion of free viral DNA was recoverable as transcriptionally active minichromosomes. Three distinct subpopulations of cells were distinguished by in situ analyses. Type 1 cells showed high copy free viral DNA and expressed the major viral capsid protein VP1; these cells appeared to be at various stages of productive (lytic) viral infection. Some productively infected cells were able to undergo mitosis; in a portion of these cells, VP1 was found in close association with the mitotic spindle. Type 2 cells contained high copy free DNA but did not express VP1; by some unknown mechanism, these cells manifest a post-replication block to late gene expression and lytic infection. Type 3 cells contained only low copy, presumably integrated, viral DNA and expressed no VP1; they thus resemble cells transformed in vitro by the virus. Epithelial tumors contained variable mixtures of these subpopulations, while mesenchymal tumors were composed of Type 3 cells only. Differences in virus-cell interactions are discussed in terms of their possible implications in tumor development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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