Papillomaviruses and Carcinogenic Progression I

Cottontail Rabbit (Shope) Papillomavirus
  • Felix O. Wettstein
Part of the The Viruses book series (VIRS)


The etiological agent of rabbit papillomatosis, a disease brought to the attention of Shope by a hunter, was identified as a virus over 50 years ago (Shope and Hurst, 1933). As later shown, the Shope rabbit papilloma virus—now usually named cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV)—represented the first DNA virus known to cause tumors. Five biological phenomena brought considerable attention to CRPV and its biology: (1) the ability to induce tumors (papillomas); (2) the disappearance of detectable virus from many tumors, a phenomenon called “masking”; (3) the spontaneous regression of virus-induced tumors in some animals; (4) the progression of the papillomas to malignant, invasive, metastasizing carcinomas; and (5) the synergism between virus and chemical carcinogens. Finally, an early, though unsuccessful, experiment in gene therapy with CRPV involving hyperarginemic patients was undertaken (Terheggen et al., 1975). The rationale for this experiment was based on the assumption that increased levels of arginase in virus-induced rabbit papillomas was due to the expression of a virus-coded enzyme (Rogers, 1959; Rogers and Moore, 1963). Subsequent measurements of the arginase activity in 9,10-dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene (DMBA)-induced papillomas showed similarly increased arginase levels (Orth et al., 1967; Satoh et al., 1967) and the enzyme was indistinguishable from highly purified rabbit liver arginase (Orth et al., 1971b; Vielle-Breitburd and Orth, 1972).


Tumor Induction Rabbit Skin American Tissue Culture Collection Domestic Rabbit Unpublished Finding 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix O. Wettstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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