Association of BK virus with human brain tumors and tumors of pancreatic islets

Int J Cancer. 1987 Jan 15;39(1):60-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910390111.


BK virus (BKV) DNA was detected by Southern blot hybridization in 19 out of 74 (25.6%) human brain tumors and in 4 out of 9 (44.4%) human tumors of pancreatic islets. BKV DNA was free, in an episomal state and generally in a low copy number (0.2 to 2 genome equivalents per cell). Only occasional tumors contained 10 to 20 genome copies per cell. Viral DNA sequences integrated into cellular DNA were not detected. A number of tumors expressed BKV-specific RNA and T antigen. By transfection of total tumor DNA into human embryonic fibroblasts, viruses with the biological and antigenic properties of BKV were rescued from 6 brain tumors and from 2 tumors of pancreatic islets. Restriction endonuclease mapping of the genomes of the rescued viruses showed that they differ from wild-type BKV. They are all similar to each other and to BKV-IR, a virus previously rescued from a human tumor of pancreatic islets, suggesting the possible association of a BKV variant with specific types of human neoplasms. The significance of the relationship of these BKV variants to human tumors and their possible etiologic role in human oncogenesis are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / etiology
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor / analysis
  • BK Virus / genetics*
  • BK Virus / pathogenicity
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cricetinae
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Polyomavirus / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis


  • Antigens, Viral, Tumor
  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral