Research Topic

Unraveling the role of HERVs in cancer: insights and new targets for therapy

About this Research Topic

Current cancer therapy needs innovative approaches forthe identification of new targets in order to overcome tumor aggressiveness, immunosuppression, and drug resistance. Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have been demonstrated to be potential causative elements or co-factors contributing to the onset and ...

Current cancer therapy needs innovative approaches forthe identification of new targets in order to overcome tumor aggressiveness, immunosuppression, and drug resistance. Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have been demonstrated to be potential causative elements or co-factors contributing to the onset and progression of cancer in humans. ERVs drive tumorigenesis through different mechanisms, such as genomic instability and mutagenesis, activation of downstream oncogenes, expression of oncogenic ERV-K proteins, their fusogenic and immunosuppressive activity, as well as the alteration of cellular checkpoints. Moreover, in their dynamic regulation, ERVs are important inducers of the immune response as well as key determinants of pluripotency in human embryonic stem cells, and have been associated with the cancer stemness phenotype thus sustaining tumorigenesis and cancer aggressiveness. In this landscape, ERVs have been recognized as potential cancer hallmarks, and could represent novel disease biomarkers and therapeutic opportunities as targets.


This Research Topic focuses on ERVs in cancer relating to in vitro and in vivo research, including pre-clinical and clinical studies, with an emphasis on the potential use of ERVs as targets for therapy and biomarkers of disease and response to therapy. We welcome Original Research, Clinical Trials, Hypothesis and Theory, Methods, Mini Review, Opinion, Perspective and Review articles focused, but not limited to, the following topics:


- Biomarkers and therapeutic targets
- ERV role in therapy resistance
- ERVs and immunotherapy
- Oncogenic mechanisms and the interaction with cancer cellular machinery
- Cancer cell stemness, phenotype switching and plasticity
- Busting immune response by ERV activation
- Modulation of ERV activity by epigenetic mechanisms


Keywords: Genome instability, endogenous retroviruses, cancer therapy, cancer biomarker, oncogenic mechanisms


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

06 December 2020 Manuscript
25 January 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

06 December 2020 Manuscript
25 January 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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