DOI: 10.1101/451997Oct 25, 2018Paper

HERV-K HML-2 transcription in diverse cancers is related with cancer stem cell and epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Audrey T LinGkikas Magiorkinis


Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections that make up 8% of the human genome. Although these elements are mostly fragmented and inactive, many proviruses belonging to the HERV-K (HML-2) family, the youngest lineage in the human genome, have intact open reading frames, some encoding for accessory genes called np9 and rec that interact with oncogenic pathways. Many studies have established that ERVs are transiently expressed in both stem cells and cancer, resulting in aberrant self-renewal and uncontrolled proliferation. np9 and rec expression are significantly correlated with a range of cancer stem cell (CSC) and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) biomarkers, including cellular receptors, transcription factors, and histone modifiers. Surprisingly, these ERV genes are negatively correlated with genes known to promote pluripotency in embryonic stem cell lines, such as Oct4. These results indicate that HERV-K (HML-2) is part of the transcriptional landscape responsible for cancer cells undergoing the phenotypic switch that characterises EMT. The discovery of np9 and rec's correlation with CSC and EMT biomarkers suggest a yet undescribed role affecting the transitional CSC-like state in EM...Continue Reading

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