Nature Reviews Cancer 7, 968-976 (December 2007) | doi:10.1038/nrc2272

OpinionCell-to-cell fusion as a link between viruses and cancer

Dominik Duelli1,2 & Yuri Lazebnik1  About the authors


The ability to fuse cells is shared by many viruses, including common human pathogens and several endogenous viruses. Here we will discuss how cell fusion can link viruses to cancer, what types of cancers it can affect, how the existence of this link can be tested and how the hypotheses that we propose might affect the search for human oncogenic viruses. In particular, we will focus on the ability of cell fusion that is caused by viruses to induce chromosomal instability, a common affliction of cancer cells that has been thought to underlie the malignant properties of cancerous tumours.

Author affiliations

  1. Dominik Duelli was at and Yuri Lazebnik is at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.
  2. Dominik Duelli is now at the Department of Pathology, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois 60064, USA.

Correspondence to: Dominik Duelli1,2 Email:;

Correspondence to: Yuri Lazebnik1 Email:


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