The Molecular Biology of Adenoviruses

  • Arnold J. Levine
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 136)


The adenoviruses were discovered in 1953–54 by two independent groups studying respiratory diseases (1, 2). W. Rowe and his collegues at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD, USA, developed an experimental method for culturing adenoids that were removed from children. Cells derived from such cultured tissues subsequently liberated a viral agent which then destroyed these cells. The agent was called “the adenoid degenerating agent” or AD agent (1). At about the same time M. Hilleman and his research group at Merck Sharp and Dohme isolated a virus from the throat washings of military recruits (2). This virus replicated in and killed human HeLa cells in culture and was called “the respiratory illness agent” or RI agent (2). The RI agent and the AD agent were rapidly shown to be related to each other and the name adenoviruses was adopted to describe this group of viruses. Employing immunological reagents to classify viral antigens a large number of related adenoviruses, with a common group specific antigen, were detected in humans (3), monkies (4), dogs (5), mice (6), cattle (7), and birds (8). The adenovirus group now has over 90 members (9) with more than 40 distinct isolates of human origin (3). These viruses all share a common group specific antigen which is the exon virion subunit or virion surface capsid. Individual viruses are identified by a type specific antigen on the virion fiber protein which is responsible for absorption of viruses to cells.


Cold Spring Harbor Adenovirus Type Terminal Protein Late mRNAs Major Histocompatibility Antigen 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold J. Levine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology, Lewis Thomas LaboratoryPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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