Send to

Choose Destination
Semin Cancer Biol. 2009 Aug;19(4):252-60. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2009.02.004. Epub 2009 Feb 21.

BK virus and human cancer: innocent until proven guilty.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5620, USA.


BK virus (BKV) is a polyomavirus that ubiquitously infects the human population. Following a typically subclinical primary infection, BKV establishes a life-long persistent infection in the kidney and urinary tract. BKV is known to reactivate and cause severe disease in immunosuppressed patients, particularly renal and bone marrow transplant patients. Infection of BKV in rodent animal models or cells in culture often results in tumor formation or transformation, respectively. When co-expressed with activated oncogenes, BKV large tumor antigen drives the transformation of primary human cells. An etiological role of BKV in human cancer, however, remains controversial. Multiple reports have demonstrated conflicting results in regards to the presence of BKV sequences and/or proteins in various tumor types. This review compiles the most recent findings of BKV detection in a number of human cancers. Due to the lack of conclusive causality data from these studies, there does not appear to be a definitive association between BKV and human cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center