Virus Genes

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 93–101

The Hamster Polyomavirus—a Brief Review of Recent Knowledge*

  • Siegfried Scherneck
  • Rainer Ulrich
  • Jean Feunteun


The hamster polyomavirus (HaPV) was first described in 1967 as a virus associated with skin epithelioma of the Syrian hamster. The tumors appear spontaneously in a hamster colony bred in Berlin-Buch (HaB). Virus particles isolated from skin epitheliomas cause lymphoma and leukemia when injected into newborn hamsters from a distinct colony bred in Potsdam, Germany (HaP). The viral genome has been totally sequenced and the overall genetic organization establishes HaPV as a member of the polyomaviruses. HaPV is a second example of an middle T (MT) antigen encoding polyomavirus and nucleotide sequence homologies designates the mouse polyomavirus (Py) as the closest relative.

Lymphomas induced by HaPV in HaP hamsters do not contain virus particles but instead accumulate different amounts of nonrandomly deleted free and/or integrated viral genomes. Transgenic mice produced by microinjection of HaPV DNA into the pronucleus of fertilized eggs of Gat: NMRI mice developed both, epitheliomas and lymphomas. Both tumor types contain extrachromosomal DNA.

HaPV DNA was found to replicate in hamster lymphoid and fibroblast cell lines. Fully reproductive cycles could be detected only in GD36 lymphoblastic leukemia cells.

HaPV carries the full transforming properties of a polyomavirus in vitro. Immortalization of primary rat cells is essentially carried out by the HaPV large T (LT) antigen and coexpression of HaPV MT and HaPV small T (ST) antigen is required for full transformation of rat fibroblasts. The preferential binding of HaPV MT to c-Fyn, a Src family kinase, has been proposed as a mechanism leading to lymphoid malignancies.

Heterologous expression of HaPV-VP1 allowed the formation of virus like particles (VLPs) resembling HaPV particles. The high flexibility of HaPV-VP1 for insertion of foreign peptides offers a broad range of potential applications, especially in vaccine development.

polyomaviruses hamster polyomavirus Syrian hamster tumor virus antigens virus transformation Src family kinases virus-like particles 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siegfried Scherneck
    • 1
  • Rainer Ulrich
    • 2
  • Jean Feunteun
    • 3
  1. 1.Max Delbrück Center for Molecular MedicineBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Virology, Charité Medical SchoolHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Génétique OncologiqueCNRS, Institut Gutave RoussyVillejuifFrance

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