Multiple sources of contamination in samples from patients reported to have XMRV infection.
ABSTRACT: Xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related retrovirus (XMRV) was reported to be associated with prostate cancer by Urisman, et al. in 2006 and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by Lombardi, et al. in 2009. To investigate this association, we independently evaluated plasma samples from 4 patients with CFS reported by Lombardi, et al. to have XMRV infection and from 5 healthy controls reported to be XMRV uninfected. We also analyzed viral sequences obtained from supernatants of cell cultures found to contain XMRV after coculture with 9 clinical samples from 8 patients. A qPCR assay capable of distinguishing XMRV from endogenous MLVs showed that the viral sequences detected in the CFS patient plasma behaved like endogenous MLVs and not XMRV. Single-genome sequences (N?=?89) from CFS patient plasma were indistinguishable from endogenous MLVs found in the mouse genome that are distinct from XMRV. By contrast, XMRV sequences were detected by qPCR in 2 of the 5 plasma samples from healthy controls (sequencing of the qPCR product confirmed XMRV not MLV). Single-genome sequences (N?=?234) from the 9 culture supernatants reportedly positive for XMRV were indistinguishable from XMRV sequences obtained from 22Rv1 and XMRV-contaminated 293T cell-lines. These results indicate that MLV DNA detected in the plasma samples from CFS patients evaluated in this study was from contaminating mouse genomic DNA and that XMRV detected in plasma samples from healthy controls and in cultures of patient samples was due to cross-contamination with XMRV (virus or nucleic acid).
Project description:Murine leukemia viruses (MLVs), including xenotropic-MLV-related virus (XMRV), have been controversially linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). To explore this issue in greater depth, we compiled coded replicate samples of blood from 15 subjects previously reported to be XMRV/MLV-positive (14 with CFS) and from 15 healthy donors previously determined to be negative for the viruses. These samples were distributed in a blinded fashion to nine laboratories, which performed assays designed to detect XMRV/MLV nucleic acid, virus replication, and antibody. Only two laboratories reported evidence of XMRV/MLVs; however, replicate sample results showed disagreement, and reactivity was similar among CFS subjects and negative controls. These results indicate that current assays do not reproducibly detect XMRV/MLV in blood samples and that blood donor screening is not warranted.
Project description:In 2009, a newly discovered human retrovirus, xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MuLV)-related virus (XMRV), was reported by Lombardi et al. in 67% of persons from the US with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by PCR detection of gag sequences. Although six subsequent studies have been negative for XMRV, CFS was defined more broadly using only the CDC or Oxford criteria and samples from the US were limited in geographic diversity, both potentially reducing the chances of identifying XMRV positive CFS cases. A seventh study recently found polytropic MuLV sequences, but not XMRV, in a high proportion of persons with CFS. Here we tested blood specimens from 45 CFS cases and 42 persons without CFS from over 20 states in the United States for both XMRV and MuLV. The CFS patients all had a minimum of 6 months of post-exertional malaise and a high degree of disability, the same key symptoms described in the Lombardi et al. study. Using highly sensitive and generic DNA and RNA PCR tests, and a new Western blot assay employing purified whole XMRV as antigen, we found no evidence of XMRV or MuLV in all 45 CFS cases and in the 42 persons without CFS. Our findings, together with previous negative reports, do not suggest an association of XMRV or MuLV in the majority of CFS cases.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In 2006, a novel gammaretrovirus, XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus), was discovered in some prostate tumors. A more recent study indicated that this infectious retrovirus can be detected in 67% of patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), but only very few healthy controls (4%). However, several groups have published to date that they could not identify XMRV RNA or DNA sequences in other cohorts of CFS patients, while another group detected murine leukemia virus (MLV)-like sequences in 87% of such patients, but only 7% of healthy controls. Since there is a high degree of similarity between XMRV and abundant endogenous MLV proviruses, it is important to distinguish contaminating mouse sequences from true infections.<h4>Results</h4>DNA from the peripheral blood of 112 CFS patients and 36 healthy controls was tested for XMRV with two different PCR assays. A TaqMan qPCR assay specific for XMRV pol sequences was able to detect viral DNA from 2 XMRV-infected cells (~ 10-12 pg DNA) in up to 5 ?g of human genomic DNA, but yielded negative results in the test of 600 ng genomic DNA from 100,000 peripheral blood cells of all samples tested. However, positive results were obtained with some of these samples, using a less specific nested PCR assay for a different XMRV sequence. DNA sequencing of the PCR products revealed a wide variety of virus-related sequences, some identical to those found in prostate cancer and CFS patients, others more closely related to known endogenous MLVs. However, all samples that tested positive for XMRV and/or MLV DNA were also positive for the highly abundant intracisternal A-type particle (IAP) long terminal repeat and most were positive for murine mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase sequences. No contamination was observed in any of the negative control samples, containing those with no DNA template, which were included in each assay.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Mouse cells contain upwards of 100 copies each of endogenous MLV DNA. Even much less than one cell's worth of DNA can yield a detectable product using highly sensitive PCR technology. It is, therefore, vital that contamination by mouse DNA be monitored with adequately sensitive assays in all samples tested.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Preliminary studies in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and XMRV infected animals demonstrated plasma viremia and infection of blood cells with XMRV, indicating the potential risk for transfusion transmission. XMRV and MLV-related virus gene sequences have also been detected in 4-6% of healthy individuals including blood donors in the U.S. These results imply that millions of persons in the U.S. may be carrying the nucleic acid sequences of XMRV and/or MLV-related viruses, which is a serious public health and blood safety concern. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To gain evidence of XMRV or MLV-related virus infection in the U.S. blood donors, 110 plasma samples and 71 PBMC samples from blood donors at the NIH blood bank were screened for XMRV and MLV-related virus infection. We employed highly sensitive assays, including nested PCR and real-time PCR, as well as co-culture of plasma with highly sensitive indicator DERSE cells. Using these assays, none of the samples were positive for XMRV or MLV-related virus. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results are consistent with those from several other studies, and demonstrate the absence of XMRV or MLV-related viruses in the U.S. blood donors that we studied.
Project description:Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious systemic illness of unknown cause. A recent study identified DNA from a xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 68 of 101 patients (67%) by nested PCR, as compared with 8 of 218 (3.7%) healthy controls. However, four subsequent reports failed to detect any murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus gene sequences in blood of CFS patients. We examined 41 PBMC-derived DNA samples from 37 patients meeting accepted diagnostic criteria for CFS and found MLV-like virus gag gene sequences in 32 of 37 (86.5%) compared with only 3 of 44 (6.8%) healthy volunteer blood donors. No evidence of mouse DNA contamination was detected in the PCR assay system or the clinical samples. Seven of 8 gag-positive patients tested again positive in a sample obtained nearly 15 y later. In contrast to the reported findings of near-genetic identity of all XMRVs, we identified a genetically diverse group of MLV-related viruses. The gag and env sequences from CFS patients were more closely related to those of polytropic mouse endogenous retroviruses than to those of XMRVs and were even less closely related to those of ecotropic MLVs. Further studies are needed to determine whether the same strong association with MLV-related viruses is found in other groups of patients with CFS, whether these viruses play a causative role in the development of CFS, and whether they represent a threat to the blood supply.
Project description:Gammaretrovirus-like sequences occur in most vertebrate genomes. Murine Leukemia Virus (MLV) like retroviruses (MLLVs) are a subset, which may be pathogenic and spread cross-species. Retroviruses highly similar to MLLVs (xenotropic murine retrovirus related virus (XMRV) and Human Mouse retrovirus-like RetroViruses (HMRVs)) reported from patients suffering from prostate cancer (PC) and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) raise the possibility that also humans have been infected. Structurally intact, potentially infectious MLLVs occur in the genomes of some mammals, especially mouse. Mouse MLLVs contain three major groups. One, MERV G3, contained MLVs and XMRV/HMRV. Its presence in mouse DNA, and the abundance of xenotropic MLVs in biologicals, is a source of false positivity. Theoretically, XMRV/HMRV could be one of several MLLV transspecies infections. MLLV pathobiology and diversity indicate optimal strategies for investigating XMRV/HMRV in humans and raise ethical concerns. The alternatives that XMRV/HMRV may give a hard-to-detect "stealth" infection, or that XMRV/HMRV never reached humans, have to be considered.
Project description:XMRV is the most recently described retrovirus to be found in Man, firstly in patients with prostate cancer (PC) and secondly in 67% of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and 3.7% of controls. Both disease associations remain contentious. Indeed, a recent publication has concluded that "XMRV is unlikely to be a human pathogen". Subsequently related but different polytropic MLV (pMLV) sequences were also reported from the blood of 86.5% of patients with CFS. and 6.8% of controls. Consequently we decided to investigate blood donors for evidence of XMRV/pMLV.Testing of cDNA prepared from the whole blood of 80 random blood donors, generated gag PCR signals from two samples (7C and 9C). These had previously tested negative for XMRV by two other PCR based techniques. To test whether the PCR mix was the source of these sequences 88 replicates of water were amplified using Invitrogen Platinum Taq (IPT) and Applied Biosystems Taq Gold LD (ABTG). Four gag sequences (2D, 3F, 7H, 12C) were generated with the IPT, a further sequence (12D) by ABTG re-amplification of an IPT first round product. Sequence comparisons revealed remarkable similarities between these sequences, endogeous MLVs and the pMLV sequences reported in patients with CFS.Methodologies for the detection of viruses highly homologous to endogenous murine viruses require special caution as the very reagents used in the detection process can be a source of contamination and at a level where it is not immediately apparent. It is suggested that such contamination is likely to explain the apparent presence of pMLV in CFS.
Project description:Xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus (XMRV) was initially identified in prostate cancer (PCa) tissue, particularly in the prostatic stromal fibroblasts, of patients homozygous for the RNASEL R462Q mutation. A subsequent study reported XMRV antigens in malignant prostatic epithelium and association of XMRV infection with PCa, especially higher-grade tumors, independently of the RNASEL polymorphism. Further studies showed high prevalence of XMRV or related MLV sequences in chronic fatigue syndrome patients (CFS), while others found no, or low, prevalence of XMRV in a variety of diseases including PCa or CFS. Thus, the etiological link between XMRV and human disease remains elusive. To address the association between XMRV infection and PCa, we have tested prostate tissues and human sera for the presence of viral DNA, viral antigens and anti-XMRV antibodies.Real-time PCR analysis of 110 PCa (Gleason scores >4) and 40 benign and normal prostate tissues identified six positive samples (5 PCa and 1 non-PCa). No statistical link was observed between the presence of proviral DNA and PCa, PCa grades, and the RNASEL R462Q mutation. The amplified viral sequences were distantly related to XMRV, but nearly identical to endogenous MLV sequences in mice. The PCR positive samples were also positive for mouse mitochondrial DNA by nested PCR, suggesting contamination of the samples with mouse DNA. Immuno-histochemistry (IHC) with an anti-XMRV antibody, but not an anti-MLV antibody that recognizes XMRV, sporadically identified antigen-positive cells in prostatic epithelium, irrespectively of the status of viral DNA detection. No serum (159 PCa and 201 age-matched controls) showed strong neutralization of XMRV infection at 1:10 dilution.The lack of XMRV sequences or strong anti-XMRV neutralizing antibodies indicates no or very low prevalence of XMRV in our cohorts. We conclude that real-time PCR- and IHC-positive samples were due to laboratory contamination and non-specific immune reactions, respectively.
Project description:During pilot studies to investigate the presence of viral RNA of xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus (XMRV) infection in sera from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients in Japan, a positive band was frequently detected at the expected product size in negative control samples when detecting a partial gag region of XMRV using a one-step RT-PCR kit. We suspected that the kit itself might have been contaminated with small traces of endogenous MLV genome or XMRV and attempted to evaluate the quality of the kit in two independent laboratories. We purchased four one-step RT-PCR kits from Invitrogen, TaKaRa, Promega and QIAGEN in Japan. To amplify the partial gag gene of XMRV or other MLV-related viruses, primer sets (419F and 1154R, and GAG-I-F and GAG-I-R) which have been widely used in XMRV studies were employed. The nucleotide sequences of the amplicons were determined and compared with deposited sequences of a polytropic endogenous MLV (PmERV), XMRV and endogenous MLV-related viruses derived from CFS patients. We found that the enzyme mixtures of the one-step RT-PCR kit from Invitrogen were contaminated with RNA derived from PmERV. The nucleotide sequence of a partial gag region of the contaminant amplified by RT-PCR was nearly identical (99.4% identity) to a PmERV on chromosome 7 and highly similar (96.9 to 97.6%) to recently identified MLV-like viruses derived from CFS patients. We also determined the nucleotide sequence of a partial env region of the contaminant and found that it was almost identical (99.6%) to the PmERV. In the investigation of XMRV infection in patients of CFS and prostate cancer, researchers should prudently evaluate the test kits for the presence of endogenous MLV as well as XMRV genomes prior to PCR and RT-PCR tests.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In October 2009 it was reported that 68 of 101 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in the US were infected with a novel gamma retrovirus, xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV), a virus previously linked to prostate cancer. This finding, if confirmed, would have a profound effect on the understanding and treatment of an incapacitating disease affecting millions worldwide. We have investigated CFS sufferers in the UK to determine if they are carriers of XMRV. METHODOLOGY:Patients in our CFS cohort had undergone medical screening to exclude detectable organic illness and met the CDC criteria for CFS. DNA extracted from blood samples of 186 CFS patients were screened for XMRV provirus and for the closely related murine leukaemia virus by nested PCR using specific oligonucleotide primers. To control for the integrity of the DNA, the cellular beta-globin gene was amplified. Negative controls (water) and a positive control (XMRV infectious molecular clone DNA) were included. While the beta-globin gene was amplified in all 186 samples, neither XMRV nor MLV sequences were detected. CONCLUSION:XMRV or MLV sequences were not amplified from DNA originating from CFS patients in the UK. Although we found no evidence that XMRV is associated with CFS in the UK, this may be a result of population differences between North America and Europe regarding the general prevalence of XMRV infection, and might also explain the fact that two US groups found XMRV in prostate cancer tissue, while two European studies did not.