Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19068262
Virology 2009 Feb;384(2):369-74
The study of small DNA tumour viruses like SV40 and polyoma was one of the major entry points for the study of eukaryotes. It opened fields like gene structure, transcription or replication control, chromatin structure and cell transformation. This review outlines the breakthroughs that occurred at the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s in our understanding of gene structure and the basic processes involved in control of gene expression starting with DNA tumour viruses and reaching their cellular hosts. These developments were made possible by concomitant advances in the isolation of restriction enzymes, developing DNA sequencing protocols, DNA cloning, DNA transfections, in vitro transcription systems and isolation of sequence specific DNA binding protein among others. The conceptual and methodological advances that resulted from the studies of small DNA tumour viruses opened the era for the study of host genomes far more complex, culminating with the establishment of the sequence and a functional map of the human genome.