Retroviral vector insertion sites associated with dominant hematopoietic clones mark "stemness" pathways
Evidence from model organisms and clinical trials reveals that the random insertion of retrovirus-based vectors in the genome of long-term repopulating hematopoietic cells may increase self-renewal or initiate malignant transformation. Clonal dominance of nonmalignant cells is a particularly interesting phenotype as it may be caused by the dysregulation of genes that affect self-renewal and competitive fitness. We have accumulated 280 retrovirus vector insertion sites (RVISs) from murine long-term studies resulting in benign or malignant clonal dominance. RVISs (22.5%) are located in or near (up to 100 kb [kilobase]) to known proto-oncogenes, 49.6% in signaling genes, and 27.9% in other or unknown genes. The resulting insertional dominance database (IDDb) shows substantial overlaps with the transcriptome of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and the retrovirus-tagged cancer gene database (RTCGD). RVISs preferentially marked genes with high expression in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and Gene Ontology revealed an overrepresentation of genes associated with cell-cycle control, apoptosis signaling, and transcriptional regulation, including major "stemness" pathways. The IDDb forms a powerful resource for the identification of genes that stimulate or transform hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and is an important reference for vector biosafety studies in human gene therapy.