Failure to confirm XMRV/MLVs in the blood of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a multi-laboratory study.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:<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: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.
Project description:Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was discovered in 2006 in a search for a viral etiology of human prostate cancer (PC). Substantial interest in XMRV as a potentially new pathogenic human retrovirus was driven by reports that XMRV could be detected in a significant percentage of PC samples, and also in tissues from patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). After considerable controversy, etiologic links between XMRV and these two diseases were disproven. XMRV was determined to have arisen during passage of a human PC tumor in immunocompromised nude mice, by activation and recombination between two endogenous murine leukemia viruses from cells of the mouse. The resulting XMRV had a xentropic host range, which allowed it replicate in the human tumor cells in the xenograft. This review describes the discovery of XMRV, and the molecular and virological events leading to its formation, XMRV infection in animal models and biological effects on infected cells. Lessons from XMRV for other searches of viral etiologies of cancer are discussed, as well as cautions for researchers working on human tumors or cell lines that have been passed through nude mice, includingpotential biohazards associated with XMRV or other similar xenotropic murine leukemia viruses (MLVs).
Project description:BACKGROUND:Xenotropic murine leukaemia viruses (MLV-X) are endogenous gammaretroviruses that infect cells from many species, including humans. Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a retrovirus that has been the subject of intense debate since its detection in samples from humans with prostate cancer (PC) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Controversy has arisen from the failure of some studies to detect XMRV in PC or CFS patients and from inconsistent detection of XMRV in healthy controls. RESULTS:Here we demonstrate that Taqman PCR primers previously described as XMRV-specific can amplify common murine endogenous viral sequences from mouse suggesting that mouse DNA can contaminate patient samples and confound specific XMRV detection. To consider the provenance of XMRV we sequenced XMRV from the cell line 22Rv1, which is infected with an MLV-X that is indistinguishable from patient derived XMRV. Bayesian phylogenies clearly show that XMRV sequences reportedly derived from unlinked patients form a monophyletic clade with interspersed 22Rv1 clones (posterior probability >0.99). The cell line-derived sequences are ancestral to the patient-derived sequences (posterior probability >0.99). Furthermore, pol sequences apparently amplified from PC patient material (VP29 and VP184) are recombinants of XMRV and Moloney MLV (MoMLV) a virus with an envelope that lacks tropism for human cells. Considering the diversity of XMRV we show that the mean pairwise genetic distance among env and pol 22Rv1-derived sequences exceeds that of patient-associated sequences (Wilcoxon rank sum test: p = 0.005 and p < 0.001 for pol and env, respectively). Thus XMRV sequences acquire diversity in a cell line but not in patient samples. These observations are difficult to reconcile with the hypothesis that published XMRV sequences are related by a process of infectious transmission. CONCLUSIONS:We provide several independent lines of evidence that XMRV detected by sensitive PCR methods in patient samples is the likely result of PCR contamination with mouse DNA and that the described clones of XMRV arose from the tumour cell line 22Rv1, which was probably infected with XMRV during xenografting in mice. We propose that XMRV might not be a genuine human pathogen.
Project description:Xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus (XMRV) and other related MLVs have been described with chronic fatigue syndrome and certain types of prostate cancer. In addition, prevalence rates as high as 7% have been reported in blood donors, raising the risk of transfusion-related transmission. Several laboratories have utilized microneutralization assays as a surrogate marker for detection of anti-MLV serologic responses--with up to 25% of prostate cancer patients reported to harbor neutralizing antibody responses.We developed a high-throughput microneutralization assay for research studies on blood donors using retroviral vectors pseudotyped with XMRV-specific envelopes. Infection with these pseudotypes was neutralized by sera from both macaques and mice challenged with XMRV, but not preimmune serum. A total of 354 plasma samples from blood donors in the Reno/Tahoe area were screened for neutralization.A total of 6.5% of donor samples gave moderate neutralization of XMRV, but not control pseudotypes. However, further testing by Western blot revealed no evidence of antibodies against MLVs in any of these samples. Furthermore, no evidence of infectious virus or viral nucleic acid was observed.A microneutralization assay was developed for detection of XMRV and can be applied in a high-throughput format for large-scale studies. Although a proportion of blood donors demonstrated the ability to block XMRV envelope-mediated infection, we found no evidence that this inhibition was mediated by specific antibodies elicited by exposure to XMRV or MLV. It is likely that this moderate neutralization is mediated through another, nonspecific mechanism.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impaired language, communication and social skills, as well as by repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behavior. Many autistic subjects display a dysregulation of the immune system which is compatible with an unresolved viral infection with prenatal onset, potentially due to vertical viral transmission. Recently, the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and in prostate cancer by several, though not all studies. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We assessed whether XMRV or other murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related viruses are involved in autistic disorder. Using nested PCR targeted to gag genomic sequences, we screened DNA samples from: (i) peripheral blood of 102 ASD patients and 97 controls, (ii) post-mortem brain samples of 20 ASD patients and 17 sex- and age-matched controls, (iii) semen samples of 11 fathers of ASD children, 25 infertile individuals and 7 fertile controls. No XMRV gag DNA sequences were detected, whereas peripheral blood samples of 3/97 (3.1%) controls were positive for MLV. CONCLUSIONS| SIGNIFICANCE: No MLV-related virus was detected in blood, brain, and semen samples of ASD patients or fathers. Hence infection with XMRV or other MLV-related viruses is unlikely to contribute to autism pathogenesis.
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:Genetic conflicts between retroviruses and their receptors result in the evolution of novel host entry restrictions and novel virus envelopes, and such variants can influence trans-species transmission. We screened rodents and other mammals for sequence variation in the Xpr1 receptor for the mouse xenotropic or polytropic mouse leukemia viruses (X-MLVs or P-MLVs, respectively) of the gammaretrovirus family and for susceptibility to mouse-derived X/P-MLVs and to XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus), an X-MLV-like virus isolated from humans with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome. We identified multiple distinct susceptibility phenotypes; these include the four known Xpr1 variants in Mus and a novel fifth Xpr1 gene found in Mus molossinus and Mus musculus. We describe the geographic and species distribution of the Mus Xpr1 variants but failed to find the X-MLV-restrictive laboratory mouse allele in any wild mouse. We used mutagenesis and phylogenetic analysis to evaluate the functional contributions made by constrained, variable, and deleted residues. Rodent Xpr1 is under positive selection, indicating a history of host-pathogen conflicts; several codons under selection have known roles in virus entry. All non-Mus mammals are susceptible to mouse X-MLVs, but some restrict other members of the X/P-MLV family, and the resistance of hamster and gerbil cells to XMRV indicates that XMRV has unique receptor requirements. We show that the hypervariable fourth extracellular XPR1 loop (ECL4) contains three evolutionarily constrained residues that do not contribute to receptor function, we identify two novel residues important for virus entry (I579 and T583), and we describe a unique pattern of ECL4 variation in the three virus-restrictive Xpr1 variants found in MLV-infected house mice; these mice carry different deletions in ECL4, suggesting either that these sites or loop size affects receptor function.