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Int J Cancer. 1996 Jun 11;66(6):717-22.

Latent BK virus infection and Kaposi's sarcoma pathogenesis.

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Institute of Microbiology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.


We have analyzed by PCR skin lesions from classic, endemic and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), as well as from KS-derived cell lines, the presence of ubiquitous transforming viruses. BK virus (BKV), a transforming human papovavirus which has been associated with human tumors, was detected in 100% of KS skin lesions and 75% of KS cell lines. KS specimens contained a full-length, intact BKV early region, but minor rearrangements were observed in some tumors. BKV was also detected with a high prevalence (57-67%) in genital tissues and sperm, thus fulfilling the role of a sexually transmitted agent in KS. The closely related JC virus (JCV), which has never been associated with human malignancies, was present in 11-20% of KS specimens and was detected with a low prevalence (0-21%) in genital tissues and sperm. Simian virus 40 (SV40) was not detected in any KS lesions. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA sequences were detected in 20-25% of KS lesions. Malignant human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 and benign HPV types 6 and 11 were detected in KS specimens with a similar prevalence of 11-83%, suggesting that the presence of HPV-transforming sequences is not a specific trait of HPV interaction with KS tissue. Furthermore, JCV, SV40, HSV and HPV DNA sequences were not detected in KS cell lines, suggesting that these viruses are not associated to KS neoplastic cells in KS tissue. KS cell lines were also negative for DNA sequences of KS-HV, the novel herpesvirus detected in primary KS lesions. The constant association of BKV DNA with KS lesions and KS cell lines suggests that BKV-transforming functions may participate in the development of KS.

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