Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is the etiological agent of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare and highly lethal human skin cancer. A natural component of skin flora, MCV becomes tumorigenic only after integration into the host DNA together with specific mutations to the viral genome.
Research on MCV large T (LT) and small T (sT) antigens, the only viral products expressed in MCC, shows that these major oncoproteins not only possess biochemical functions found in common with other polyomavirus T antigens, but also demonstrate new cellular targets not described in previous polyomavirus models. This review provides a map of the relevant functional motifs and domains in MCV T antigens that have been identified, highlighting their roles in tumorigenesis.
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Wendzicki JA, Moore PS, Chang Y