The Felley-Bosco lab and collaborators looked into how expression of endogenous retroviruses and the activation of type I interferon is associated with clinical outome in mesothelioma. Their findings were published in the article "Viral Mimicry Response Is Associated With Clinical Outcome in Pleural Mesothelioma" in the JTO Clinical and Research Reports journal.
Introduction: The aim of this study was to investigate endogenous retrovirus (ERV) expression and type I interferon (IFN) activation in human pleural mesothelioma (PM) and their association with clinical outcome.
Methods: The expression of ERV was determined from PM cohorts and mesothelial precursor RNA sequencing data. The expression of ERV was confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Methylation of genomic DNA was assessed by quantitative methylation-specific PCR. DNA demethylation was induced in cells by demethylating agent 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-CdR) treatment. To block type I IFN signaling, the cells were treated with ruxolitinib or MAVS silencing. The expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) was determined by qPCR and Western blot. Circulating ERVs were detected by qPCR.
Results: Long terminal repeats (LTRs) represent the most abundant transposable elements up-regulated in PM. Within the LTR, ERVmap_1248 and LTR7Y, which are specifically enriched in PM, were further analyzed. The 5-Aza-CdR treatment increased the levels of ERVmap_1248 expression and induced ERVmap_1248 promoter demethylation in mesothelial cells. In addition, ERVmap_1248 promoter was more demethylated in the mesothelioma tissue compared with nontumor tissue. The 5-Aza-CdR treatment of the mesothelial cells also increased the levels of ISGs. Basal ISG expression was higher in the mesothelioma cells compared with the mesothelial cells, and it was significantly decreased by ruxolitinib treatment or MAVS silencing. Furthermore, ISG expression was higher in the tumor tissue with high expression levels of ERVmap_1248. High expression of ERVmap_1248 was associated with longer overall survival and BAP1 mutations. ERVmap_1248 and LTR7Y can be detected in the PM plasma.
Conclusions: We provide clues for patient stratification especially for immunotherapy where best clinical responses are associated with an activated basal immune response.