Mouse mammary tumor like virus sequences in breast milk from healthy lactating women
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Mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) has been a long standing candidate as a potential cause of some human breast cancers. Forty years ago, electron microscopic images of MMTV-like particles were identified in milk from 5% of healthy lactating women. These observations, however, have not been confirmed by modern methods. The purpose of this study was to confirm the presence of MMTV-like DNA sequences in human milk from normal lactating women. Standard and in situ PCR analyses were conducted on DNA extracted from fresh breast milk samples collected from a group of 91 healthy lactating women volunteers. The MMTV-like viral positive PCR products were sequenced and a phylogenetic tree was constructed to compare these sequences. Immunohistochemistry analyses were performed on breast milk cells using polyclonal rabbit antibodies against affinity-purified MMTV envelope glycoproteins 52/36. MMTV-like envelope gene sequences were identified by PCR in 5% (4/91) of breast milk samples from healthy lactating women volunteers. These observations were confirmed by in situ PCR and immunohistochemistry using MMTV gp52/36 antibodies. These findings confirm the presence of MMTV-like gene sequences in human milk. As MMTV is transmitted via milk from mouse mothers to their newborn pups to cause mammary tumors when they become adults, this indicates a means of transmission of this virus in humans.
KeywordsMouse mammary tumor virus MMTV MMTV-like virus Envelope protein Hormonal influence PCR
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