Oncogenes pp 38-66 | Cite as

Viruses and Oncogenes

  • Kathy B. Burck
  • Edison T. Liu
  • James W. Larrick


Five groups of double-stranded DNA viruses and diploid RNA viruses of the retroviral group are associated epidemiologicaly, experimentally, or both with animal and human neoplasia. DNA tumor viruses associated with cancer on epidemiological grounds include papilloma viruses and urogenital cancer, herpes viruses and Burkitt’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and hepatitis viruses and liver cancer. No biochemically defined oncogenes have yet been described for any of these viruses; however, preliminary evidence suggests the existence of transforming sequences in both papilloma and herpes viruses.

Although studied in great molecular detail with elucidation of clearly defined oncogenes, polyoma viruses and adenoviruses have not been associated with naturally occurring tumors in vivo. Their oncogenes are structurally dissimilar to retroviral oncogenes, yet these two gene classes appear to subserve similar functions.

The RNA tumor viruses were the first infectious agents unequivocally associated with neoplasia. A large number of such viruses have been isolated from chickens, rodents, cats, and monkeys. Many transduce one or two oncogene sequences necessary and sufficient for efficient cellular transformation. These oncogenes were derived originally from host sequences. Virally transduced oncogenes comprise some 20 independent species falling into a smaller number (some five to seven) of functional categories. The retroviral life cycle, employing a double-stranded DNA intermediate (the provirus) that integrates into host DNA, suggests a mechanism where by the virus could acquire cellular sequences.

Both RNA and DNA viruses are associated with cancer. There are five major categories of DNA tumor viruses, each of which has a double-stranded DNA genome. No known single-stranded DNA virus is associated with oncogenesis. Of the RNA viruses, only one group is associated with cancer: the single-stranded but diploid oncorna viruses.


Human Papilloma Virus Long Terminal Repeat Herpes Virus Rous Sarcoma Virus Polyoma Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathy B. Burck
    • 1
  • Edison T. Liu
    • 2
  • James W. Larrick
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Kasier Foundation HospitalSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Lineberger Cancer Research CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.GENELABS, Inc.Redwood CityUSA
  4. 4.Psoriasis Research ScientistStanfordUSA

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