Background: A novel gammaretrovirus named xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been recently identified and found to have a prevalence of 40% in prostate tumor samples from American patients carrying a homozygous R462Q mutation in the RNaseL gene. This mutation impairs the function of the innate antiviral type I interferon pathway and is a known susceptibility factor for prostate cancer. Here, we attempt to measure the prevalence of XMRV in prostate cancer cases in Germany and determine whether an analogous association with the R462Q polymorphism exists.
Results: 589 prostate tumor samples were genotyped by real-time PCR with regard to the RNaseL mutation. DNA and RNA samples from these patients were screened for the presence of XMRV-specific gag sequences using a highly sensitive nested PCR and RT-PCR approach. Furthermore, 146 sera samples from prostate tumor patients were tested for XMRV Gag and Env antibodies using a newly developed ELISA assay. In agreement with earlier data, 12.9% (76 samples) were shown to be of the QQ genotype. However, XMRV specific sequences were detected at neither the DNA nor the RNA level. Consistent with this result, none of the sera analyzed from prostate cancer patients contained XMRV-specific antibodies.
Conclusion: Our results indicate a much lower prevalence (or even complete absence) of XMRV in prostate tumor patients in Germany. One possible reason for this could be a geographically restricted incidence of XMRV infections.