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, 87 (16), 8916-26

Landscape of DNA Virus Associations Across Human Malignant Cancers: Analysis of 3,775 Cases Using RNA-Seq


Landscape of DNA Virus Associations Across Human Malignant Cancers: Analysis of 3,775 Cases Using RNA-Seq

Joseph D Khoury et al. J Virol.


Elucidation of tumor-DNA virus associations in many cancer types has enhanced our knowledge of fundamental oncogenesis mechanisms and provided a basis for cancer prevention initiatives. RNA-Seq is a novel tool to comprehensively assess such associations. We interrogated RNA-Seq data from 3,775 malignant neoplasms in The Cancer Genome Atlas database for the presence of viral sequences. Viral integration sites were also detected in expressed transcripts using a novel approach. The detection capacity of RNA-Seq was compared to available clinical laboratory data. Human papillomavirus (HPV) transcripts were detected using RNA-Seq analysis in head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma, uterine endometrioid carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. Detection of HPV by RNA-Seq correlated with detection by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry in squamous cell carcinoma tumors of the head and neck. Hepatitis B virus and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) were detected using RNA-Seq in hepatocellular carcinoma and gastric carcinoma tumors, respectively. Integration sites of viral genes and oncogenes were detected in cancers harboring HPV or hepatitis B virus but not in EBV-positive gastric carcinoma. Integration sites of expressed viral transcripts frequently involved known coding areas of the host genome. No DNA virus transcripts were detected in acute myeloid leukemia, cutaneous melanoma, low- and high-grade gliomas of the brain, and adenocarcinomas of the breast, colon and rectum, lung, prostate, ovary, kidney, and thyroid. In conclusion, this study provides a large-scale overview of the landscape of DNA viruses in human malignant cancers. While further validation is necessary for specific cancer types, our findings highlight the utility of RNA-Seq in detecting tumor-associated DNA viruses and identifying viral integration sites that may unravel novel mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis.


Fig 1
Fig 1
Visualization of HPV16 integration breakpoints in the HPV16 genome. The frequency of integration breakpoints at different loci in the HPV16 genome is shown as a blue histogram. The scale bar indicates the number of tumors. The locations of the genes encoding HPV16 E6 (red), E7 (dark green), E1 (orange), E2 (purple), E4 (green), E5 (gray), L2 (light orange), and L1 (yellow) proteins are shown. Genomic positions are numbered.
Fig 2
Fig 2
Integration sites of HPV16 in head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma tumors in the human genome (hg19). Chromosome numbers are shown (*, detected in two cases).

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