Large T and small T antigens of Merkel cell polyomavirus

Curr Opin Virol. 2015 Apr;11:38-43. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2015.01.009. Epub 2015 Feb 11.


Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is the etiological agent of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare and highly lethal human skin cancer. A natural component of skin flora, MCV becomes tumorigenic only after integration into the host DNA together with specific mutations to the viral genome. Research on MCV large T (LT) and small T (sT) antigens, the only viral products expressed in MCC, shows that these major oncoproteins not only possess biochemical functions found in common with other polyomavirus T antigens, but also demonstrate new cellular targets not described in previous polyomavirus models. This review provides a map of the relevant functional motifs and domains in MCV T antigens that have been identified, highlighting their roles in tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / chemistry
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / genetics
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus / genetics
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus / physiology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor