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Viruses 2018, 10(8), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10080412

Disruption by SaCas9 Endonuclease of HERV-Kenv, a Retroviral Gene with Oncogenic and Neuropathogenic Potential, Inhibits Molecules Involved in Cancer and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sassari, Viale San Pietro 43B, 07100 Sassari, Italy
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Received: 5 July 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Abstract

The human endogenous retrovirus (HERV)-K, human mouse mammary tumor virus like-2 (HML-2) subgroup of HERVs is activated in several tumors and has been related to prostate cancer progression and motor neuron diseases. The cellular splicing factor 2/alternative splicing factor (SF2/ASF) is a positive regulator of gene expression, coded by a potent proto-oncogene, amplified, and abnormally expressed in tumors. TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43) is a DNA/RNA-binding protein, negative regulator of alternative splicing, known for causing neurodegeneration, and with complex roles in oncogenesis. We used the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 technology, with the Cas9 system from Staphylococcus aureus (SaCas9), to disrupt the HERV-K(HML-2)env gene, and evaluated the effects on cultured cells. The tool was tested on human prostate cancer LNCaP cells, whose HERV-Kenv transcription profile is known. It caused HERV-K(HML-2)env disruption (the first reported of a HERV gene), as evaluated by DNA sequencing, and inhibition of env transcripts and proteins. The HERV-K(HML-2)env disruption was found to interfere with important regulators of cell expression and proliferation, involved in manaling, RNA-binding, and alternative splicing, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R), nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), SF2/ASF, and TDP-43. These novel findings suggest that HERV-K is not an innocent bystander, they reinforce its links to oncogenesis and motor neuron diseases, and they open potential innovative therapeutic options. View Full-Text
Keywords: human endogenous retroviruses; HERV-Kenv; CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing; prostate cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; pathogenesis; SF2/ASF; TDP-43 human endogenous retroviruses; HERV-Kenv; CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing; prostate cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; pathogenesis; SF2/ASF; TDP-43
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Ibba, G.; Piu, C.; Uleri, E.; Serra, C.; Dolei, A. Disruption by SaCas9 Endonuclease of HERV-Kenv, a Retroviral Gene with Oncogenic and Neuropathogenic Potential, Inhibits Molecules Involved in Cancer and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Viruses 2018, 10, 412.

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