Chickens given injections of Rous sarcoma virus form sarcomas at the site of inoculation (primary tumor) and at the site of experimentally introduced wounds (wound tumor). This latter finding provides a model system to study systematically the mechanisms underlying the cocarcinogenic effects of wounding. Our experiments show the following. (a) Chickens inoculated with a Rous sarcoma virus-derived, replication-defective virus construct fail to elaborate wound tumors in spite of aggressively growing primary tumors. We thus rule out metastasis as a mechanism and conclude that infectious virus is required for wound tumor formation; (b) using bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and immunofluorescence on frozen sections we demonstrate proliferation in the unwounded wing in cell types which are normally targets for Rous sarcoma virus infection and transformation and conclude that proliferation per se is not sufficient to induce wound tumors; (c) using immunohistochemistry for the viral protein p19gag we show that wounding induces virus expression in fibroblasts of newly forming granulation tissue 2 days after injury. We also demonstrate expression of viral mRNA in wound tumors by in situ hybridization with a v-src probe. We discuss the possibility of activation of integrated, silent virus or the preferential infection of a special target cell population as a result of wounding as well as the potential role of wound factors in transformation.


This work was supported by the Office of Health and Environmental Research, United States Department of Energy, under Contract DEAC-03-76SF00098.

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