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Trends Microbiol. 2010 May;18(5):215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2010.01.001. Epub 2010 Feb 20.

Structural evaluation of new human polyomaviruses provides clues to pathobiology.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA 23501, USA.


In the past three years, remarkable discoveries have added three new human polyomaviruses (KI virus (KIV), WU virus (WUV) and Merkel cell virus (MCV)) to a class that previously had only two disease-causing members (BK virus (BKV) and JC virus (JCV)) identified. Two monkey polyomaviruses, simian virus (SV)40 and B-cell lymphotropic polyomavirus (LPV) are also present in humans. KIV and WUV lack the agnoprotein coding sequence and regulatory micro (mi)RNA clusters of BKV, JCV and SV40. MCV lacks the agnoprotein sequence but generates miRNAs. KIV, WUV and MCV are all widespread in humans. Although they have distinctive tissue tropisms, all these viruses are probably acquired in childhood. Of these viruses, only MCV has thus far been strongly linked to cancer. Marshalled evidence from diverse sources implicates MCV as an etiological agent of Merkel cell carcinoma. This review compares the structural features of the new and previously known polyomaviruses, with the aim of identifying approaches to molecular pathology.

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