Oncogenic potentials of the human polyomavirus regulatory proteins
The polyomaviruses BK, JC and SV40 are common in the human population. Their DNA genomes encode large T-antigen, small t-antigen, agnoprotein, and the capsid proteins VP1–3. Studies with these viruses have contributed extensively to the understanding of processes such as replication, transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation, and cell cycle control. All three viruses can transform human cells in vitro, can induce tumours in animal models, and are strongly association with certain human cancers. It is generally assumed that large T-antigen is the major protein involved in neoplastic processes and that large T-antigen predominantly exerts its effect through deregulation of the tumour suppressors p53 and the retinoblastoma family members. However, additional properties of large T-antigen as well as the other viral proteins contribute to oncogenic processes. This review presents the different mechanisms by which the polyomavirus proteins can induce transformation and discusses which mechanisms may be operational in polyomavirus-positive cancers.