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Dysregulated endogenous retroelements (EREs) are increasingly implicated in the initiation, progression, and immune surveillance of human cancer. However, incomplete knowledge of ERE activity limits mechanistic studies. By using pan-cancer de novo transcript assembly, we uncover the extent and complexity of ERE transcription. The current assembly doubled the number of previously annotated transcripts overlapping with long-terminal repeat (LTR) elements, several thousand of which were expressed specifically in one or a few related cancer types. Exemplified in melanoma, LTR-overlapping transcripts were highly predictable, disease prognostic, and closely linked with molecularly defined subtypes. They further showed the potential to affect disease-relevant genes, as well as produce novel cancer-specific antigenic peptides. This extended view of LTR elements provides the framework for functional validation of affected genes and targets for cancer immunotherapy.

Original publication

DOI

10.1101/gr.248922.119

Type

Journal article

Journal

Genome research

Publication Date

10/2019

Volume

29

Pages

1578 - 1590

Addresses

Retroviral Immunology, The Francis Crick Institute, London NW1 1AT, United Kingdom.