Monday, June 20, 2011

Acronym in virology: ALV for avian leukosis virus

In the biology of viruses, the acronym ALV stands for avian leukosis virus [1]. The ALVs are closely related to RSV, the progenitor of which is assumed to have been an ALV [2]. In a chapter with the title “How Proto-oncogenes Participate in Cancer,” Harold Varmus explains the role that ALV played in cancer research. ALV is a retrovirus without viral oncogenes. Yet, ALV infects chickens, which can lead to cancer. Varmus tells us that the graduate student Greg Payne showed that—by studying chicken lymphomas—ALV proviruses could be found in cellular DNA on either sides of a proto-oncogene and in either orientation: a good starting point to “zoom in” and—at supramolecular level— investigate how proviruses affect expression of adjacent proto-oncogenes.

In a review on avian oncogenic viruses,  Irit Davidson also connects avian tumor viruses and human tumor research [3]. He presents viral-induced tumors in poultry and discusses findings for avian oncogenic viruses including the retroviruses ALV, avian leucosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J),  reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) and lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV) as well as a herpesvirus named Marek's diseases virus (MDV).
Is there any virus without an acronym?
References and further reading
[1] Acronym Finder:
[2] Harold Varmus: The Art and Politics of Science. W. W. Norton & Comany, New York and London, 2009; pages 93 to 95.
[3] Irit Davidson: The Knowledge that Human Tumor Virology can Gain from Studies on Avian Tumor Viruses. Advances in Tumor Virology 2009, 1, 9-19. [PDF file available at].

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