Human endogenous retroviral K element encodes fusogenic activity in melanoma cells

Gengming Huang, Zhongwu Li, Xiaohua Wan, Yue Wang, Jianli Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Introduction and Hypothesis: Nuclear atypia with features of multi nuclei have been detected in human melanoma specimens. We found that the K type human endogenous retroviral element (HERV K) is expressed in such cells. Since cellular syncytia can form when cells are infected with retroviruses, we hypothesized that HERV K expressed in melanoma cells may contribute to the formation of multinuclear atypia cells in melanoma. Experiments and Results: We specifically inhibited HERV K expression using RNA interference (RNAi) and monoclonal antibodies and observed dramatic reduction of intercellular fusion of cultured melanoma cells. Importantly, we identified loss of heterozygosity (LOH)of D19S433 in a cell clone that survived and proliferated after cell fusion. Conclusion: Our results support the notion that proteins encoded by HERV K can mediate intercellular fusion of melanoma cells, which may generate multinuclear cells and drive the evolution of genetic changes that provide growth and survival advantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109032
JournalJournal of Carcinogenesis
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Cell fusion
  • K-type human endogenous retroviral deoxyribonucleic acid
  • melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Human endogenous retroviral K element encodes fusogenic activity in melanoma cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this