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MMTV-related sequences in feline breast carcinomas


Mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) has a proven role in breast cancer (BC) in susceptible murine lines. MMTV-related sequences were also found in significant proportion of human sporadic and familial BC patients (17-52%). MMTV-homologous sequences were found in liver, timus and spleen of wild commensal mice; in 63% animals analyzed the sequences were expressed [13]. However, the role and origin of MMTV-related infection in humans is unclear.

Materials and methods

Earlier gag MMTV gene-related fragments were revealed in cats by other investigators [4]. We studied 9 female cats (7-15 years old) with BC treated at the Laboratory Animals Brunch to search MMTV-homologous sequences in tumor cells of BC animals. Specific PCRs with primers for gp52-coding area of the env MMTV and gag MMTV genes were used. PCR-products were sequenced and partially cloned in pGEM-T vector followed by sequencing. All experiments were isolated from ones with mice or infectious MMTV to avoid DNA contamination.


MMTV-related sequences were revealed in DNA samples from tumor and adjacent breast tissues in 3/9 (33.3%) of BC animals. The sequences analysis by BLAST and DNA Star was shown 92-97% homology of the gp52 env MMTV-related area with exogenous MMTV (C3H and HeJ strains), 93-97% - with Mus musculus cDNA and 93-98% homology with human MMTV-related betaretrovirus. Homology of the gag MMTV-related area with exogenous MMTV was 92-95%, with Mus musculus cDNA - 96-98% and with human MMTV-like betaretrovirus - 97-99%. Homology of the env and gag MMTV genes - homologous sequences between different animals was 92-93% and 97%, correspondingly; ORFs were found in sequenced PCR products.


Preliminary data show high similarity between feline and human MMTV-related sequences revealed in BC tissues. Feline might to be intermediate host for viral infection and transmission from mice to human.


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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lushnikova, À.A., Preobrazenskaya, A.B., Pavlov, V.A. et al. MMTV-related sequences in feline breast carcinomas. Retrovirology 6 (Suppl 2), P72 (2009).

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