Identification of microbial DNA in human cancer

BMC Med Genomics. 2009 May 8;2:22. doi: 10.1186/1755-8794-2-22.


Background: Microorganisms have been associated with many types of human diseases; however, a significant number of clinically important microbial pathogens remain to be discovered.

Methods: We have developed a genome-wide approach, called Digital Karyotyping Microbe Identification (DK-MICROBE), to identify genomic DNA of bacteria and viruses in human disease tissues. This method involves the generation of an experimental DNA tag library through Digital Karyotyping (DK) followed by analysis of the tag sequences for the presence of microbial DNA content using a compiled microbial DNA virtual tag library.

Results: To validate this technology and to identify pathogens that may be associated with human cancer pathogenesis, we used DK-MICROBE to determine the presence of microbial DNA in 58 human tumor samples, including brain, ovarian, and colorectal cancers. We detected DNA from Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) in a DK library of a colorectal cancer liver metastasis and in normal tissue from the same patient.

Conclusion: DK-MICROBE can identify previously unknown infectious agents in human tumors, and is now available for further applications for the identification of pathogen DNA in human cancer and other diseases.