Cell transformation by Herpesvirus saimiri


  • Alexander Y. Tsygankov

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, 3400 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140.
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Herpesvirus saimiri (Saimiriine herpesvirus-2), a γ2-herpesvirus (rhadinovirus) of non-human primates, causes T-lymphoproliferative diseases in susceptible organisms and transforms human and non-human T lymphocytes to continuous growth in vitro in the absence of stimulation. T cells transformed by H. saimiri retain many characteristics of intact T lymphocytes, such as the sensitivity to interleukin-2 and the ability to recognize the corresponding antigens. As a result, H. saimiri is widely used in immunobiology for immortalization of various difficult-to-obtain and/or -to-maintain T cells in order to obtain useful experimental models. In particular, H. saimiri-transformed human T cells are highly susceptible to infection with HIV-1 and -2. This makes them a convenient tool for propagation of poorly replicating strains of HIV, including primary clinical isolates. Therefore, the mechanisms mediating transformation of T cells by H. saimiri are of considerable interest. A single transformation-associated protein, StpA or StpB, mediates cell transformation by H. saimiri strains of group A or B, respectively. Strains of group C, which exhibit the highest oncogenic potential, have two proteins involved in transformation—StpC and Tip. Both proteins have been shown to dramatically affect signal transduction pathways leading to the activation of crucial transcription factors. This review is focused on the biological effects and molecular mechanisms of action of proteins involved in H. saimiri-dependent transformation. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.