Absence of markers of betaretrovirus infection in human pulmonary adenocarcinoma

Paul Hopwood, William A H Wallace, Chris Cousens, Patricia Dewar, Mathew Muldoon, Mary Norval, David J Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A proportion of human pulmonary adenocarcinomas has been shown previously to express an antigen related to the Gag protein of a betaretrovirus, Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus, that causes ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma. To investigate further the hypothesis that a retrovirus might be present in human lung adenocarcinoma, we examined specimens from patients with lung cancer for evidence of retroviral infection by immunohistochemistry, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting and cDNA library screening. Thirty-eight percent of the tumor samples analyzed were positive by immunohistochemistry for Gag-related antigen of Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus. However, this antigen was not detected by immunoblotting using the same antiserum. In addition, plasma samples from the patients did not contain antibodies reacting with Gag proteins from Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus or other betaretroviruses on immunoblots. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction identified the expression of endogenous betaretroviruses in tumor tissue and in normal lung tissue, but no specific provirus was associated with tumor. Expression library screening did not identify the Gag-reactive antigen. This study has confirmed the expression of a Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus Gag-related antigen in some human lung tumors but additional evidence of betaretroviral infection was not obtained. While these data do not rule out a role for a retrovirus in human pulmonary adenocarcinomas, they suggest that, if such a virus is present, it is unrelated to known betaretroviruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-40
Number of pages10
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betaretrovirus
  • Female
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral
  • Retroviridae Infections
  • Tumor Markers, Biological
  • Tumor Virus Infections


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