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Novel insights into viral infection and oncogenesis from Koala Retrovirus (KoRV) infection of HEK293T cells

Sarker, Nishat; Tarlinton, Rachael; Owen, Helen; David Emes, Richard; Seddon, Jennifer; Simmons, Greg; Meers, Joanne


Nishat Sarker

Helen Owen

Richard David Emes

Jennifer Seddon

Greg Simmons

Joanne Meers


Koala retrovirus is thought to be an underlying cause of high levels of neoplasia and immunosuppression in koalas. While epidemiology studies suggest a strong link between KoRV and disease it has been difficult to prove causality because of the complex nature of the virus, which exists in both endogenous and exogenous forms. It has been difficult to identify koalas completely free of KoRV, and infection studies in koalas or koala cells are fraught with ethical and technical difficulties, respectively. This study uses KoRV infection of the susceptible human cell line HEK293T and RNAseq to demonstrate gene networks differentially regulated upon KoRV infection. Many of the pathways identified are those associated with viral infection, such as cytokine receptor interactions and interferon signalling pathways, as well as viral oncogenesis pathways. This study provides strong evidence that KoRV does indeed behave similarly to infectious retroviruses in stimulating antiviral and oncogenic cellular responses. In addition, it provides novel insights into KoRV oncogenesis with the identification of a group of histone family genes that are part of several oncogenic pathways as upregulated in KoRV infection.


Sarker, N., Tarlinton, R., Owen, H., David Emes, R., Seddon, J., Simmons, G., & Meers, J. (2020). Novel insights into viral infection and oncogenesis from Koala Retrovirus (KoRV) infection of HEK293T cells. Gene, 733,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 12, 2020
Online Publication Date Jan 20, 2020
Publication Date Apr 5, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 21, 2021
Journal Gene
Print ISSN 0378-1119
Electronic ISSN 1879-0038
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 733
Article Number 144366
Keywords RNAseq; Transcriptome analysis; Human cell line HEK293T; Infectious retroviruses
Public URL
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