Samples of neoplastic and normal urothelium were obtained from cows originating from areas of southern Italy, a region in which chronic enzootic haematuria is endemic and bracken fern infestation is widespread. Specimens were analysed for bovine papillomavirus type 2 (BPV-2) DNA, BPV-2 E5 expression and telomerase activity. A total of 46 of 60 tumours and 17 of 34 normal bladder mucosa samples harboured BPV-2 DNA. Analysis of a subset of samples showed E5 protein expression and telomerase activity in tumour tissue only. No normal samples positive for BPV DNA showed E5 protein expression or telomerase activity, suggesting the presence of DNA in a latent state. Taken together, these data on naturally occurring bovine bladder tumours corroborate the hypothesis of their virus origin.
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