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Human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) is distinctive among the retroviruses that comprise about 8% of the human genome in that multiple HERV-K proviruses encode full-length viral proteins, and many HERV-K proviruses formed during recent human evolution. HERV-K gag proteins are found in the cytoplasm of primary tumor cells of patients with seminoma. We identified HERV-K-specific T cells in patients with a past history of seminoma using the interferon-gamma ELISPOT assay and an MHC-HERV-K peptide-specific tetramer. A minority of apparently healthy subjects without evident germ cell tumors also made HERV-K-specific T cell responses. In summary, we detected T cell reactivity to HERV-K peptides in both past seminoma patients and a minority of apparently healthy controls.

Original publication




Journal article


AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses

Publication Date





52 - 56


Antibodies, Viral, Endogenous Retroviruses, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Seminoma, T-Lymphocytes, Virus Integration