Polyoma virus inoculation of athymic mice results in the development of mammary tumours with a much higher incidence than the development of salivary gland tumours, the latter being the most common for immunocompetent normal mice. The possibility existed that polyoma virus might act as a co-carcinogen in activating the expression of mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV). Molecular hybridization studies, however, showed that the mammary tumour development was accompanied by neither the amplification of MMTV genomic sequences nor by their more extensive transcription. In contrast, tumour tissue contained about 60 to 100 copies of polyoma virus genome equivalents per cell and some of these sequences were apparently transcribed into RNA. While these results do not rule out the transient involvement of MMTV expression in mammary tumour development, it appeared that the mammary gland cells were directly transformed by polyoma virus. Apparently, polyoma virus displayed a tropism in athymic mice that was different from that in normal mice.


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