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Cancer Res. 2003 Dec 15;63(24):8735-41.

An endogenous retrovirus derived from human melanoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Division of General Dermatology, University of Vienna Medical School, Vienna, Austria.


We show that human melanoma cells produce retrovirus-like particles that exhibit reverse transcriptase activity, package sequences homologous to human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K), and contain mature forms of the Gag and Env proteins. We also demonstrate expression of the pol gene and of Gag, Env, and Rec proteins in human melanomas and metastases but not in melanocytes or normal lymph nodes. The data suggest that expression of retroviral genes and production of retroviral particles is activated during development of melanoma.

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