KRAS-retroviral fusion transcripts and gene amplification in arsenic-transformed, human prostate CAsE-PE cancer cells

B. Alex Merrick, Dhiral P. Phadke, Meredith A. Bostrom, Ruchir R. Shah, Garron M. Wright, Xinguo Wang, Oksana Gordon, Katherine E. Pelch, Scott S. Auerbach, Richard S. Paules, Michael J. DeVito, Michael P. Waalkes, Erik J. Tokar

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5 Scopus citations


CAsE-PE cells are an arsenic-transformed, human prostate epithelial line containing oncogenic mutations in KRAS compared to immortalized, normal KRAS parent cells, RWPE-1. We previously reported increased copy number of mutated KRAS in CAsE-PE cells, suggesting gene amplification. Here, KRAS flanking genomic and transcriptomic regions were sequenced in CAsE-PE cells for insight into KRAS amplification. Comparison of DNA-Seq and RNA-Seq showed increased reads from background aligning to all KRAS exons in CAsE-PE cells, while a uniform DNA-Seq read distribution occurred in RWPE-1 cells with normal transcript expression. We searched for KRAS fusions in DNA and RNA sequencing data finding a portion of reads aligning to KRAS and viral sequence. After generation of cDNA from total RNA, short and long KRAS probes were generated to hybridize cDNA and KRAS enriched fragments were PacBio sequenced. More KRAS reads were captured from CAsE-PE cDNA versus RWPE-1 by each probe set. Only CAsE-PE cDNA showed KRAS viral fusion transcripts, primarily mapping to LTR and endogenous retrovirus sequences on either 5′- or 3′-ends of KRAS. Most KRAS viral fusion transcripts contained 4 to 6 exons but some PacBio sequences were in unusual orientations, suggesting viral insertions within the gene body. Additionally, conditioned media was extracted for potential retroviral particles. RNA-Seq of culture media isolates identified KRAS retroviral fusion transcripts in CAsE-PE media only. Truncated KRAS transcripts suggested multiple retroviral integration sites occurred within the KRAS gene producing KRAS retroviral fusions of various lengths. Findings suggest activation of endogenous retroviruses in arsenic carcinogenesis should be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115017
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Amplification
  • Arsenic
  • KRAS
  • Prostate
  • Retrovirus
  • Transformation


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