Abstract Title:

Of mice, cats, and men: is human breast cancer a zoonosis?

Abstract Source:

Microsc Res Tech. 2005 Nov ;68(3-4):197-208. PMID: 16276516

Abstract Author(s):

Sara Szabo, Allyson M Haislip, Robert F Garry

Article Affiliation:

Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA. [email protected]


Mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), a member of the betaretroviridae, is the most common cause of breast cancer (BC) in mice. MMTV is transmitted in mice both in the germline as endogenous proviruses and exogenously as infectious virions. Here, we review a variety of evidence accumulated for six decades that has suggested that a human homologue of MMTV may exist. The findings include recent studies from several independent laboratories that have detected sequences very closely related to MMTV in DNA isolated from human BC tumors. Other laboratories, however, have failed to detect the MMTV-related sequences in human DNA samples, and conclusive evidence for a human mammary tumor virus has been elusive. We also reviewed additional studies, suggesting that betaretroviruses are present in a much wider range of species than previously known, including rodents, felines, and primates. The observation that a subset of cats may be infected with a close homologue of MMTV may be of epidemiological significance for human BC. Cats may become infected by MMTV from mice, and in turn may transmit the virus to humans, possibly after selection for variants with an expanded host range.

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