Polyomavirus (PyV) infections are widespread in human populations and, although generally associated with silent persistence, rarely cause severe disease. Among diseases convincingly associated with natural PyV infections of humans, there are remarkably different tissue tropisms and outcomes, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, transient or progressive nephropathy, and cancer. The variable character and unpredictable outcomes of infection attest to large gaps in our basic understanding of PyV biology. In particular, the rich history of research demonstrating the oncogenic potential of PyVs in laboratory animals begs the question of why cancer is not more often associated with infection. Raccoon polyomavirus (RacPyV), discovered in 2010, is consistently identified in neuroglial tumors in free-ranging raccoons in the western United States. Exposure to RacPyV is widespread, and RacPyV is detected in tissues of raccoons without tumors. Studying the relationship of RacPyV with its natural host is a unique opportunity to uncover cogent cellular targets and protein interactions between the virus and its host. Our hypothesis is that RacPyV, as an intact episome, alters cellular pathways within neural progenitor cells and drives oncogenesis.
- Brain tumor
- Large t antigen
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)