Using the whole body section hybridization technique, we monitored the organ- and age-specific pattern of replication of hamster polyomavirus (HaPV) DNA in a colony of Syrian hamsters, which are susceptible to lymphoma induction. Three phases of viral infection and replication could be distinguished: first, a phase of acute infection characterized by high levels of replication of HaPV DNA in the haemopoietic organs and the liver. This culminated 5 to 7 days post-infection (p.i.); second, at 10 days p.i., a phase of viral clearance became evident; and finally, a third phase reflected both the restriction of HaPV replication in adult hamsters and the accumulation of HaPV DNA at sites of tumour development. A remarkable conformity was observed between the tissue specificity of viral replication and the induced tumour profile: high levels of replication of HaPV DNA were restricted to cells of the haemopoietic system and lymphoid tumours were induced. As shown by hybridization, the viral infection in non-haemopoietic organs was due to the dissemination of HaPV-infected blood cells.


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