The role of polyomaviruses WU and KI in human disease and tumour development
MetadataShow full item record
After the shocking discovery of SV40 as being a polyomavirus (PyV) capable of transforming human cells more than three decades ago, the recent discovery of four human PyV WU, KI, Merkel cell carcinoma virus (MCV) and trichodysplasia spinulosa-associated polyomavirus (TSV) have regained interest in this family of PyV. Especially their (possible) role in human disease is a current and interesting research theme. An important characteristic of all PyV is that they initially cause asymptomatic infections, but are able to cause disease particularly in immunosuppressed patients. Insight into reactivation of latent viruses or of normally ‘benign’ persistent viruses in immunocompromised patients has become increasingly important in de field of organ transplantations and for HIV infected patients. This rising problem and especially the discovery of three new human PyV set these viruses in a scientific spotlight. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about 20% of all cancers worldwide are associated with chronic infections. Particularly, up to 15% of human cancers are marked by a viral aetiology. The challenges are now to characterize the prevalence, disease associations, and pathophysiology for the new viruses. Because these viruses are recent discoveries, comprehensive information is missing. For none of the four new PyV an infectious virus has been isolated. However, general features already become apparent. For WU and KI, there are few indications regarding their possible pathogenic potential. In case of MCV molecular mechanisms underlying the oncogenesis are recently uncovered. Here we try to find mechanisms by which the newly discovered PyV WU, KI and MCV can cause disease by comparing them to other well known and disease-causing viruses such as BK and JC. Moreover, we provide an overview of the recent knowledge of hPyV with focus on the biology of WI, KU and MCV.