Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Acronym in virology: RSV denoting different viruses

In the biology of viruses, the acronym RSV may stand for Rous sarcoma virus, respiratory syncytical virus, rice stripe virus and  ragged stunt virus [1,2]. To distinguish the latter two viruses, which can infect rice plants, the ragged stunt virus is often referred to as rice ragged stunt virus with acronym RRSV [2]. The respiratory syncytial virus can infect humans, causing mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older children, but may cause more serious problems in babies [3]. 

The Rous sarcoma virus is a chicken virus, belonging to the oncovirinae subfamily of retroviruses [4]. It was the first tumor virus to be described in the literature, discovered by Peyton Rous at the Rockefeller Institute in New York in 1911. The virus is now bearing his name. For his discovery of this tumorinducing virus, Peyton Rous was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1966 (actually half the prize, Charles Brenton Huggins received the other half for his discovery concerning hormonal treatment of prostatic cancer) [5].

The Nobel Prize-winning cancer researcher Harold Varmus provides a brief history of the discovery of the Rous sarcoma virus and illuminates its significance in the context of later research and discoveries, including viral cancer genes, proto-oncogenes and multiplication strategies for retroviruses such as HIV [6]. Varmus notes, that Peyton Rous, ironically, became an opponent, rather than a proponent, of the genetic origins of cancer that his virus ultimately helped to reveal.    

References and further reading
[1] Acronym Finder:
[2] Research Team for Vector-Borne Diseases: Molecular detection of nine rice viruses by a reverse-transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay. J. Virol. Methods Dec. 2010, 170 (1-2), 90-93.[].
[3] MedlinePlus: Respiratory Syncytical Virus Infection [].
[4] Bruce A. Voyles: The Biology of Viruses. WCB/McGraw-Hill, Salem, MA, 1993; page 280.
[5] Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medine Winners 2010-1901:
[6] Harold Varmus: The Art and Politics of Science. W. W. Norton & Comany, New York and London, 2009; pages 53 to 55.

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