A tumour-specific polypeptide designated U90 is one of a set of polypeptides which are encoded by the host cell and are specific for the transformed cell state, being immunoprecipitated by the sera of tumour-bearing animals. The interest in these tumour-specific polypeptides centres on the finding that they are also recognized by antisera raised against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)-infected cells, implying some role for HSV-2 in tumorigenesis. The peptide map of HSV-2-induced U90 is indistinguishable from that of U90 present in uninfected tumour cells, including mouse cells transformed by human papillomavirus type 16. In tumour cells, U90 is located principally in the plasma membrane fraction and cannot be induced by heat shock, glucose starvation, or treatment with tunicamycin or calcium ionophore. U90 is not related to either the heat shock protein of 90000 (HSP90) or the glucose-related polypeptide of 94000 (GRP94) as determined by peptide mapping and the use of monospecific, monoclonal and antipeptide antibodies. This suggests that U90 is a novel transformation-specific protein which can be induced by infection with HSV-2.


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