Episomal BK virus (BKV) DNA was detected in primary human brain tumours, in Kaposi's sarcoma and in cell lines from brain tumours, Ewing sarcoma and osteogenic sarcoma. Infectious BKV was rescued from several tumours and tumour cell lines by transfection of total cellular DNA into human embryonic fibroblasts. Restriction endonuclease and nucleotide sequence analysis showed that all the rescued viruses are similar to BKV-IR, a BK variant previously isolated from a human tumour of pancreatic islets, indicating that a specific BKV strain may be associated with certain types of human tumours. All the variants contain a putative transposable element in the regulatory region of the viral genome. This region has mutagenic properties and enhancing activity in transformation, suggesting a possible role of these variants in tumour induction or progression.


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