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Deichmann, M; Huder, J B; Kleist, C; Näher, H; Schüpbach, J; Böni, J (2005). Detection of reverse transcriptase activity in human melanoma cell lines and identification of a murine leukemia virus contaminant. Archives of Dermatological Research, 296(8):345-352.

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BACKGROUND: Stimulated by earlier reports on the presence of retroviruses in mouse and hamster melanoma cell lines, we addressed the question as to whether human melanoma cell lines might also harbour a retrovirus. METHODS AND RESULTS: The melanoma cell lines SK-MEL-25, SK-MEL-28, MEL-JUSO, MML-I, MeWo, A-375, Colo-38, BS-780 were confirmed to be human by human leucocyte antigen (HLA) typing, and supernatants were tested by the product-enhanced reverse transcriptase (PERT) assay for reverse transcriptase (RT) activity. Cell lines SK-MEL-25, SK-MEL-28, MEL-JUSO and MML-I were positive, whereas cell lines MeWo, A-375, Colo-38 and BS-780 were negative. The RT activity peaked at a buoyant density in sucrose typical for retroviruses. From this peak fraction an R-U5 sequence indistinguishable from murine leukemia virus (MLV) was identified by particle-associated retrovirus RNA amplification (PARRA). Semiquantitative MLV-specific RNA-PCR demonstrated colocalization of the MLV-like RNA and RT activity on the sucrose gradient of SK-Mel-25. MLV RNA and DNA were also detectable in culture supernatants of SK-MEL-28, MEL-JUSO and MML-I, but not of MeWo, A-375, Colo-38 and BS-780 by semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sequence comparison revealed highest homology with the RET sequence previously identified in mouse myeloma SP2/0-AG14 cells. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that certain human melanoma cell lines are productively infected by a MLV which was probably introduced during tumour passage in mice or by laboratory contamination many years ago and subsequently spread to other lines. CONCLUSION: We recommend mandatory testing of melanoma and other human cell lines for contamination with infectious MLV or other animal retroviruses, similar to mycoplasma screening, in order to avoid artificial experimental data.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Virology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Date:1 February 2005
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:28
Last Modified:27 Nov 2013 20:27
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00403-004-0501-4
PubMed ID:15630577

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