Whenever an ancient virus infected one of our forebearers, viral DNA could be inserted into their DNA. Today, as a result, 8% of our genome consists of viral DNA that was accumulated over generations by our ancestors and passed down to us. Normally, these viral DNA elements are silenced, but in cancer, they can “wake up” and trigger tumor progression and metastasis as well as alert our immune system.
Therefore, using sophisticated genome editing tools and single-cell sequencing Dr. Raquel Fueyo is investigating how a certain class of ancient viral elements—known as HERVK LTR5Hs—exert both their cancer-promoting and their immune-stimulating effects. The insights she uncovers could then be used to develop strategies that fine-tune the impact of this viral DNA in order to enhance the immune system’s ability to eliminate cancer in patients.
Projects and Grants
Regulatory role of human endogenous retroviral elements in tumor immunogenicity and cancer progression
Stanford University | All Cancers | 2020 | Joanna Wysocka, Ph.D.
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