HeLa contamination strikes again!

Beware! all ye who dive into the depths of next-generation sequencing data housed in The Cancer Genome Atlas. Lurking contamination may lead ye to false interpretations. Alas, such has happened in recent publications that state that human papillomavirus 18 is present in colorectal cancer and normal kidney tissue. However, these claims have been challenged by Paul Cantalupo and colleagues in a new publication. They show that HPV18 is not present in these samples but is, in fact, due to another case of HeLa contamination!

Who you gonna call for antiviral defense?

Polyomavirus T antigens! Nicholas Giacobbi et al. show, in their new Virology paper, that T antigen from SV40 and two human polyomaviruses, BKV and JCV, have the ability to induce an antiviral state in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Additionally, they show that the antiviral state requires STAT1 expression. Chalk up another activity for the MAMU!


Cell-type specificity rules!

The current model for tumorigenesis is that mutations in genes alter gene expression and/or the normal function of proteins or gene expression. Correspondingly, this predicts that an oncogene such as T antigen would have the same effects in different cell types. However, experiments performed by Mayte Saenz-Robles and colleagues challenge this prediction. In a paper published in Molecular Cancer Research, they describe how a truncated form of T antigen (aka MAMU) called N136 is able to form adenomatous polyps in the digestive tract when expressed in progenitor crypt cells while only causing hyperplasia and dysplasia in the villi. Isn’t cell-type specificity cool?!

Nicole and Tushar to talk at forthcoming DNA tumor virus meeting

Graduate students Nicole Seneca and Tushar Gupta will be giving a talk on their current research at the DNA Tumour Virus Meeting in Montreal, Canada on July 16 – 21st. Nicole’s talk is titled “The Variable Host Range Region of BK and JC Polyomavirus T-Antigens, But Not SV40 T-Antigen, Suppresses Transformation in MEFs” and Tushar’s talk is “Role of activator E2Fs in SV40 large T antigen mediated proliferation and transformation.”