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An unexpected finding arising from this study of the p53 tumor suppressor gene

Posted by miguelromero on 18 Oct 2015 at 12:18 GMT

In their paper studying the tumor suppressing activities of p53 Katharina Schlereth and colleagues used chromosomal material derived from cultures of two cell lines, Saos-2 and U2OS, both originating in patients with osteogenic sarcomas.  Given that their transcript was made with 18 runs (68.3 Gbp; 48.1Gb) it appears that they sequenced the total cellular DNA of their cell lines, which they generously made available at  BLASTN 1 analyses of these sequences rather surprisingly returned the presence of several sequences coding for the HIV-1 proteins 2.  Summary of these BLASTN results are at and a PDF sample at  Do the authors have an explanation for these unexpected findings?  Could it be that sometime between 1964 and 1973 (when the cell lines were developed) they have become  contaminated? 3  Or are HIV-1 sequences a marker for malignancy, as reported in the late 1990s by Rakowicz-Szulczynska in breast, ovarian and prostate cancers? 4,5,6.


1. Agostino M. Introduction to the BLAST Suite and BLASTN. Practical Bioinformatics: Garland Science; 2012: 396.

2. Korber B, Foley B, Kuiken C, Pillai S, Sodroski J. HIV sequence database: Numbering Positions in HIV Relative to HXB2CG. 2008.
3. Romero Fernández-Bravo M. Contamination of genomic databases by HIV-1 and its possible consequences. A study in Bioinformatics. 2014.
4. Rakowicz-Szulczynska EM. Viral markers RAK in early diagnosis and therapy of breast, ovarian, uterine, and prostate cancers. In: Diamandis E, Fritsche H, Lilja H, Chan D, Schwartz M, eds. Tumor markers: Physiology, Pathobiology, Technology, and Clinical Applications: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; 2002.

5. Rakowicz-Szulczynska EM, Jackson B, Szulczynska AM, Smith M. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1-like DNA sequences and immunoreactive viral particles with unique association with breast cancer. Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. Sep 1998;5:645-653.

6. Rakowicz-Szulczynska EM, Jackson B, Snyder W. Prostate, breast and gynecological cancer markers RAK with homology to HIV-1. Cancer Lett. Feb 27 1998;124:213-223.

No competing interests declared.