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Viral transformation most commonly refers to the virus-induced malignant transformation of an animal cell in a body or cell culture. In molecular biology, the term may also refer to the transfection of DNA into a host cell using a viral vector.
Virus-induced malignant transformation
Viral transformation can impose characteristically determinable features upon a cell. Typical phenotypic changes include high saturation density, anchorage-independent growth, loss of contact inhibition, loss of orientated growth, immortalisation, disruption of the cell's cytoskeleton.
Epidemiological studies suggest that malignant transformation of cells by viruses occurs via multiple steps. This involves initiation, promotion and progression events. Viruses act along with other factors to transform cells. The persistence of at least part of the viral genome within the cell is required for cell transformation. This is accompanied by the continual expression from a number of viral genes. These genes interfere with a cell's signaling pathway causing the observed phenotypic changes of the cell. The end result is a transformed cell showing increased cell division, which is favorable to the virus.
The term transformation is also used for the introduction of foreign DNA into cells, which can be achieved using a viral vector to transfer the DNA. This process is also referred to as transfection or transduction, respectively.
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