Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Dolutegravir Inhibits Proliferation and Motility of BT-20 Tumor Cells through Inhibition of Human Endogenous Retrovirus Type K

Version 1 : Received: 16 February 2022 / Approved: 18 February 2022 / Online: 18 February 2022 (05:10:41 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

DOI: 10.7759/cureus.26525


Increasing evidence points to the role of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) in driving cancer cell proliferation. The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility of repurposing antiretroviral agents to inhibit ERVs as a new approach in cancer treatment. We found that an integrase strand-transfer inhibitor, dolutegravir (DTG), effectively inhibited the proliferation of multiple cancer cell lines and its antiproliferative potency was positively correlated with the expression levels of the human endogenous retrovirus type K (HERV-K). DTG inhibited the expression of HERV-K in multiple human cancer cell lines and the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) in the murine 4T1 mammary cancer cell line. We chose the fast-growing BT-20 cell line as a model to study the in vitro antiproliferative mechanisms of DTG. BT-20 cells overexpressing both HERV-K env and pol genes became more resistant to DTG than cells transduced with vector alone. Knockdown of HERV-K also increased DTG resistance of BT-20 cells. The antiproliferative effect of DTG correlated with enhanced expression of E-cadherin and reduction in cell motility and invasiveness. Surprisingly, DTG stimulated expression of the env gene of MMTV in vivo and promoted metastasis of 4T1 tumor cells to the lungs. Taken together, our data support a role of ERVs in tumor development and encourage further search for antiretroviral agents to treat malignancies in which endogenous retroviruses are active.


endogenous retroviruses; HERV-K; mouse mammary tumor virus; dolutegravir; 4T1 cells



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