by Deanna Lee, Jaydip Das Gupta, Christina Gaughan, Imke Steffen, Ning Tang, Ka-Cheung Luk, Xiaoxing Qiu, Anatoly Urisman, Nicole Fischer, Ross Molinaro, Miranda Broz, Gerald Schochetman, Eric A. Klein, Don Ganem, Joseph L. DeRisi, Graham Simmons, John Hackett, Robert H. Silverman, Charles Y. Chiu
XMRV, or xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus, is a novel gammaretrovirus originally identified in studies that analyzed tissue from prostate cancer patients in 2006 and blood from patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in 2009. However, a large number of subsequent studies failed to confirm a link between XMRV infection and CFS or prostate cancer. On the contrary, recent evidence indicates that XMRV is a contaminant originating from the recombination of two mouse endogenous retroviruses during passaging of a prostate tumor xenograft (CWR22) in mice, generating laboratory-derived cell lines that are XMRV-infected. To confirm or refute an association between XMRV and prostate cancer, we analyzed prostate cancer tissues and plasma from a prospectively collected cohort of 39 patients as well as archival RNA and prostate tissue from the original 2006 study. Despite comprehensive microarray, PCR, FISH, and serological testing, XMRV was not detected in any of the newly collected samples or in archival tissue, although archival RNA remained XMRV-positive. Notably, archival VP62 prostate tissue, from which the prototype XMRV strain was derived, tested negative for XMRV on re-analysis. Analysis of viral genomic and human mitochondrial sequences revealed that all previously characterized XMRV strains are identical and that the archival RNA had been contaminated by an XMRV-infected laboratory cell line. These findings reveal no association between XMRV and prostate cancer, and underscore the conclusion that XMRV is not a naturally acquired human infection.