Cancers comprise a heterogeneous group of human diseases. Unifying characteristics include unchecked abilities of tumor cells to proliferate and spread anatomically, and the presence of clonal advantageous genetic changes. However, universal and highly specific tumor markers are unknown. Herein, we report widespread long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1) repeat expression in human cancers. We show that nearly half of all human cancers are immunoreactive for a LINE-1-encoded protein. LINE-1 protein expression is a common feature of many types of high-grade malignant cancers, is rarely detected in early stages of tumorigenesis, and is absent from normal somatic tissues. Studies have shown that LINE-1 contributes to genetic changes in cancers, with somatic LINE-1 insertions seen in selected types of human cancers, particularly colon cancer. We sought to correlate this observation with expression of the LINE-1-encoded protein, open reading frame 1 protein, and found that LINE-1 open reading frame 1 protein is a surprisingly broad, yet highly tumor-specific, antigen.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.