Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Recognition Sequences as Markers for Distinguishing Among Tumour Antigens Encoded by SV40, BKV and JCV

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Simian virus 40 (SV40) has been shown to be associated with a number of human tumours. Two other human papova viruses, BKV and JCV, infect humans at a relatively high frequency and are activated upon immune suppression. The T antigens of both of these viruses share considerable homologies with the transforming protein T antigen of SV40. We have used SV40 T antigen specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones to discriminate among the T antigens of SV40, BKV and JCV. These CTL clones directed to four distinct CTL epitopes serve as specific probes and can differentiate subtle alterations or deletions in the CTL epitopes relative to SV40 T antigen. Using this strategy, we have been able to authenticate three SV40 viruses isolated from humans as all four distinct CTL epitopes in the T antigens encoded by these three SV40 human isolates (SVCPC, SVMEN, and SVPML-1) were found to be identical to prototype SV40. We have further identified a 198 amino acid deletion T antigen variant of SVCPC. The finding of a deletion mutant in the SVCPC virus population suggests that the cellular immune response may play a role in the selection of antigenic loss variants.

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