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Advances in Hematology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 627920, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/627920
Research Article

Genomic Amplification of an Endogenous Retrovirus in Zebrafish T-Cell Malignancies

1Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
2Department of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
3Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 21 February 2012; Accepted 17 April 2012

Academic Editor: Elspeth Payne

Copyright © 2012 J. Kimble Frazer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Genomic instability plays a crucial role in oncogenesis. Somatically acquired mutations can disable some genes and inappropriately activate others. In addition, chromosomal rearrangements can amplify, delete, or even fuse genes, altering their functions and contributing to malignant phenotypes. Using array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), a technique to detect numeric variations between different DNA samples, we examined genomes from zebrafish (Danio rerio) T-cell leukemias of three cancer-prone lines. In all malignancies tested, we identified recurring amplifications of a zebrafish endogenous retrovirus. This retrovirus, ZFERV, was first identified due to high expression of proviral transcripts in thymic tissue from larval and adult fish. We confirmed ZFERV amplifications by quantitative PCR analyses of DNA from wild-type fish tissue and normal and malignant D. rerio T cells. We also quantified ZFERV RNA expression and found that normal and neoplastic T cells both produce retrovirally encoded transcripts, but most cancers show dramatically increased transcription. In aggregate, these data imply that ZFERV amplification and transcription may be related to T-cell leukemogenesis. Based on these data and ZFERV’s phylogenetic relation to viruses of the murine-leukemia-related virus class of gammaretroviridae, we posit that ZFERV may be oncogenic via an insertional mutagenesis mechanism.