Patterns of transcription of a virus-like agent in tumor and non-tumor tissues in bicolor damselfish

Jennifer J. Rahn, Patrick D.L. Gibbs, Michael C. Schmale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Damselfish neurofibromatosis (DNF) is a transmissible disease characterized by peripheral nerve sheath and pigment cell tumors which occurs in bicolor damselfish (Stegastes partitus) on Florida reefs. The damselfish virus-like agent (DVLA) is associated with the development of DNF and contains a 2.4 kb DNA genome which was found at high levels in tumors and tumor-derived cell lines and at lower levels in non-tumor tissues of both spontaneously diseased fish (TF) and fish with experimentally induced tumors (EF). An analysis of transcription patterns revealed up to five DVLA derived RNAs ranging in size from 300 to 1400 bp in these cell types. DNA was the most commonly distributed DVLA component in TF and EF followed by RNA. Prevalence of transcripts varied by tissue type. The smallest transcripts were the most common in all cell types and the most complete patterns, which included the larger transcripts, were observed primarily in tumors. The presence of viral RNAs in addition to DNA in non-tumor tissues suggested these tissues were infected by DVLA and indicated a wide tissue tropism for this agent. The high levels of DVLA nucleic acids found in tumors suggest that replication is occurring there. However, the potential for DVLA replication in other tissues where only a limited range of transcripts were present is not known. The mechanism of tumorigenesis by this agent is unknown. However, the association of the larger transcripts with most tumor tissues and their absence in most non-tumor tissues suggests that these RNAs may be involved in tumor formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - C Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Damselfish
  • Neurofibroma
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Schwann cell
  • Transcription
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pharmacology


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