Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Inability of Rous sarcoma virus to cause sarcomas in the avian embryo


The injection of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) into the wing web of newly hatched chicks causes a rapidly growing sarcomatous tumour which is palpable within 1 week of inoculation1 ; and cultures of fibroblasts derived from chick embryos (CEF) and infected with RSV become rapidly transformed2. Genetic studies have determined that expression of a single viral gene, designated v-src, is necessary for neoplastic transformation3. This gene codes for a 60,000-molecular weight phosphoprotein termed pp60src, which possesses a protein kinase activity that phosphorylates polypeptides on tyrosine residues and is constitutively expressed in infected CEF cells4. It has been suggested that transformation, and possibly tumorigenesis, may result solely from the consequences of this increase in tyrosine phosphorylations4. The pathogenicity of RSV in chick embryos in ovo is less clear. Murphy and Rous5suggested that RSV may have caused tumours in “various tissues” of “some embryos”, but the subsequent studies of Milford and Duran-Reynals6, as well as several other laboratories7,8, failed to find any evidence of intraembryonic tumours in RSV-infected early embryos. The findings of Duran-Reynals, if correct, cannot be explained easily in view of our present understanding of RSV tumorigenicity. Thus, we have re-examined the interaction of RSV with the avian embryo and confirm here that RSV is non-tumorigenic and non-teratogenic when microinjected into day 4 chicken embryos. In addition, we found that (1) the virus not only replicates in the embryo, but it also expresses an active src-specific protein kinase and (2) once the cells from the infected limbs are disrupted and placed in culture, they are capable of expressing the transformed phenotype after a 24-h delay.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Purchase, H. G. & Burmester, B. R. in Diseases of Poultry (ed. Hofsted, M. S.) 502–568 (Iowa State University Press, 1972).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Hanafusa, H. in Comprehensive Virology Vol. 10 (eds Fraenkel-Conrat H. & Wagner, R.) 401–482 (Plenum, New York, 1977).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Linial, M. & Blair, D. in Molecular Biology of Tumour Viruses 2nd edn (ed. Weiss, R.) 649–784 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Bishop, J. M. & Varmus, H. in Molecular Biology of Tumor Viruses 2nd edn (ed. Weiss, R.) 999–1108 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Murphy, J. B. & Rous, P. J. exp. Med. 15, 119–132 (1912).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Milford, J. J. & Duran-Reynals, F. Cancer Res. 3, 578–584 (1943).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Coates, H., Borsos, T., Foard, M. & Bang, F. B. Int. J. Cancer 3, 424–439 (1968).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Ebert, J. D. & Wilt, F. H. Q. Rev. Biol. 35, 261–311 (1960).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Hamburger, V. & Hamilton, H. L. J. Morph. 88, 49–92 (1951).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Duran-Reynals, F. Yale. J. Biol. Med. 13, 77–98 (1940).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Beard, J. W. in Viral Oncology (ed. Klein, G.) 55–87 (Raven, New York, 1980).

  12. 12

    Tereba, A. & Murti, K. G. Virology 80, 166–176 (1977).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Schwarz, R. I., Farson, D. A. & Bissell, M. J., in Vitro 15, 941–948 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Durban, E. M. & Boettiger, D. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 3600–3604 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Boettiger, D. & Durban, E. M. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 44, 1249–1254 (1980).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Dunkel, V. C. & Groupe, V. J. natn. Cancer Inst. 34, 201–215 (1965).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Radke, K. & Martin, G. S. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 76, 5212–5216 (1979).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Cooper, J. A. & Hunter, T. Molec. cell. Biol. 1, 165–178 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Gilmore, T. D., Radke, K. & Martin, G. S. Molec. cell. Biol. 2, 199–206 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Cooper, J. S., Reiss, N. A., Schwartz, R. J. & Hunter, T. Nature 302, 218–223 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Bissell, M. J., Hatie, C. & Calvin, M. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 76, 348–352 (1979).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Parry, G., Bartholomew, J. C. & Bissell, M. J. Nature 288, 702–722 (1980).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Poste, G. & Flood, M. K. Cell 17, 789–800 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Krueger, J. G., Garber, E. A. Goldberg, A. R. & Hanafusa, H. Cell 28, 889–896 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Bryant, D. & Parsons, J. T. J. Virol. 44, 683–691 (1982).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Mardon, G. & Varmus, H. E. Cell 32, 871–879 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Nandi, S. & McGrath, C. M. Adv. Cancer Res. 17, 353–314 (1973).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Cooper, G. M. & Nieman, P. E. Nature 292, 857–858 (1982).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Dawe, C. J., Morgan, W. D. & Slatick, M. S. Int. J. Cancer 1, 419–450 (1966).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Folkman, J. & Moscona, A. Nature 273, 345–349 (1978).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Mintz, B. & Fleishman, R. A. Adv. Cancer Res. 34, 211–278 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Brem, H., Arensman, R. & Folkman, J. in Extracellular Matrix Influences on Gene Expression (ed. Slavkin, H. C.) 767–772 (Academic, New York, 1975).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Swartzendruber, D. E., Friedrich, T. D. & Lehman, J. M. J. cell. Physiol. 93, 25–30 (1977).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Jaenisch, R. et al. Cell 24, 519–529 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Zeigel, R. F., Burmester, B. R. & Rauscher, F. J. natn. Cancer Inst. Monogr. 17, 711–731 (1964).

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Beug, H., Palmierim, S., Freudenstein, C., Zentgraf, H. & Graf, T. Cell 28, 907–919 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Graf, T., van Kirchbach, A. & Beug, H. Expl Cell Res. 131, 331–343 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Jaenisch, R. Cell 19, 181–188 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Anders, A. & Anders, F. Biochim. biophys. Acta 516, 61–95 (1978).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Smith, R. E. & Iranyi, J. J. Immun. 125, 523–530 (1980).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Frykberg, L. et al. Cell 32, 227–238 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Hinegardner, R. T. Analyt. Biochem. 39, 197–201 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Collett, M. S. & Erikson, R. L. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 75, 2021–2024 (1978).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Temin, H. M. & Rubin, H. Virology 6, 669–688 (1958).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Bissell, M. J., Hall, H. G. & Parry, G. J. theor. Biol. 99, 31–68 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Bissell, M. J., Farson, D. A. & Tung, A. S. C. J. supramolec. Struct. 6, 1–12 (1977).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dolberg, D., Bissell, M. Inability of Rous sarcoma virus to cause sarcomas in the avian embryo. Nature 309, 552–556 (1984).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing