Human Endogenous Retrovirus K – A Novel Target for HIV and Cancer Therapeutics
The human genome is comprised of approximately 8% genetic material inserted by endogenous retrovirus over millions of year of evolution. Most Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) are dysfunctional because of numerous mutations and deletions, some however are capable of producing functional transcripts, proteins, and impacting gene regulation. HERV-K is thought to be the most HERV to enter the human genome, approximately 150,000 years ago (PMC3102101). During steady state HERV-K appears to be transcriptionally inactive, however during HIV-1 infection or malignant transformation cells express HERV-K genes, including the HERV-K Envelope, which is expressed on HIV-infected cells and numerous malignancies. Thus, HERV-K Envelope may represent a highly conserved target for HIV prevention and therapeutic strategies and may have benefits for therapeutic treatment of various cancers. The Kobie laboratory is developing potent monoclonal antibodies targeting HERV-K Envelope for pre-clinical testing.
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