Vital role of HERV-K in malignant disease progression provides a novel target for cancer therapeutics
Ho, Catherine Ngoc
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Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERV) are segments of the human genome that are viral in origin and occupy approximately 8% of the human genome, which is nearly 3 times as much as functional protein coding genes (3%). Although most are defective due to accumulation of post insertional mutations, Human Endogenous Retrovirus Type K (HERV-K) retains the ability to produce functional particles and is activated during progression of malignant disease. The resulting proviral products have been associated tumorigenesis through their presumed role in malignant cell production. While therapeutics that focus on HERV-K inhibition have not been manufactured, current Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved antiretroviral therapies are capable of decreasing expression of HERV-K in cancer cells. In summary, antiretroviral drugs may serve as a promising new anticancer drug by targeting and decreasing expression of HERV-K proteins.