Papovaviruses and Human Tumors

  • H. zur Hausen
Conference paper
Part of the Haematology and Blood Transfusion / Hämatologie und Bluttransfusion book series (HAEMATOLOGY, volume 28)


Papovaviruses contain the two subgroups “polyomaviruses” and “papillomaviruses” (reviewed in [20]). Members of both subgroups are clearly oncogenic, most notably the papillomaviruses, which induce papillomas within their natural hosts (see review [24]). Viruses of both subgroups can be distinguished morphologically, biochemically, and biologically. The polyomaviruses are nonenveloped, eicosaedral particles of 40 nm containing a circular double-stranded DNA molecule of about 3.3 × 106 daltons. The papillomaviruses show similar structural features. They are, however, larger in size (50–55 nm) and contain a DNA molecule of about 5.0 × 106 daltons. The structural organization of the genome is totally different in both groups: In polyomaviruses, transcription of early and late genes occurs in opposite polarity involving both strands. Papillomavirus DNA has only one transcribed strand with a long stretch of base pairs separating early and late transcripts. Polyomaviruses thus far appear to be oncogenic under experimental conditions only, mainly after injection into newborn animals. Papillomaviruses, in contrast, are the causative agents of papillomas and contribute, under certain conditions, to malignant conversion.


Leukemia Gravel Papilloma Transferase Larg 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1983

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  • H. zur Hausen

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