Polyomavirus is the sole genus of viruses within the family Polyomaviridae. Polyomaviruses are DNA-based, small (40-50 nanometers in diameter), and icosahedral in shape, and do not have a lipoprotein envelope. They are potentially oncogenic (tumor-causing); they often persist as latent infections in a host without causing disease, but may produce tumors in a host of a different species, or a host with an ineffective immune system. The name polyoma refers to the viruses' ability to produce multiple (poly-) tumors (-oma).
The Simian vacuolating virus 40 replicates in the kidneys of monkeys without causing disease, but causes sarcomas in hamsters. It is unknown whether it can cause disease in humans, which has caused concern since the virus may have been introduced into the general population in the 1950s through a contaminated polio vaccine.
The genus Polyomavirus used to be one of two genera within the now obsolete family Papovaviridae (the other genus being Papillomavirus which is now assigned to its own family Papillomaviridae). The name Papovaviridae derives from three abbreviations: Pa for Papillomavirus, Po for Polyomavirus, and Va for "vacuolating".
Viruses that belong to the familypolyomaviridae have circular, monopartite, infectious, double-stranded DNA that exists in a supercoiled structure in the virion and is associated with histones H2a, H2b, H3, and H4 stolen from the host.
With the publication of the Seventh Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, papovaviridae was split into two new families, papillomaviridae and polyomaviridae.
Comoli P, Basso S, Azzi A, Moretta A, De Santis R, Del Galdo F, De Palma R, Valente U, Nocera A, Perfumo F, Locatelli F, Maccario R, Ginevri F. Dendritic cells pulsed with polyomavirus BK antigen induce ex vivo polyoma BK virus-specific cytotoxic T-cell lines in seropositive healthy individuals and renal transplant recipients.
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