Research: DNA Extraction Columns Contaminated with Murine Sequences, PLoSone, 18 August 2011

August 19, 2011

From PLoSOne, 18 August 2011

Otto Erlwein, Mark J. Robinson, Simon Dustan, Jonathan Weber, Steve Kaye, Myra O. McClure

Jefferiss Research Trust Laboratories, Section of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom


Sequences of the novel gammaretrovirus, xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) have been described in human prostate cancer tissue, although the amounts of DNA are low. Furthermore, XMRV sequences and polytropic (p) murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) have been reported in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). In assessing the prevalence of XMRV in prostate cancer tissue samples we discovered that eluates from naïve DNA purification columns, when subjected to PCR with primers designed to detect genomic mouse DNA contamination, occasionally gave rise to amplification products. Further PCR analysis, using primers to detect XMRV, revealed sequences derived from XMRV and pMLVs from mouse and human DNA and DNA of unspecified origin. Thus, DNA purification columns can present problems when used to detect minute amounts of DNA targets by highly sensitive amplification techniques.

Citation: Erlwein O, Robinson MJ, Dustan S, Weber J, Kaye S, et al. (2011) DNA Extraction Columns Contaminated with Murine Sequences. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23484. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023484

Editor: K.T. Jeang, National Institute of Health, United States of America

Received: June 30, 2011; Accepted: July 18, 2011; Published: August 18, 2011

Copyright: © 2011 Erlwein et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: The authors are grateful for support of this work from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre funding scheme. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

3 thoughts on “Research: DNA Extraction Columns Contaminated with Murine Sequences, PLoSone, 18 August 2011”

  1. Lombardi et al. and Lo et al. looked for RNA, not DNA. And evidence of contamination from mouse viruses or in other labs is not evidence of this occurring in other positive studies. If it were, HIV and HTLV would not be accepted as human retroviruses and the human race could be now looking at extinction.

    “Some HIV researchers are convinced that careful lab work is enough to prevent contamination. We disagree. Contamination happens, even in the best laboratories. Screening for contamination should be done before the analysis of the sequences, and periodically during the course of large sequencing studies, so problems can be detected and corrected early.”

    Even when contamination does occur, which for HGRV there is no proof, it does not invalidate the same retrovirus infecting humans.

    By the way McClure claims to have left CFS research. Producing papers like this means she has not left.

  2. It seems that Prof. McClure either can’t understand, or is conveniently blind to the complex and cunning ways in which retroviruses behave.

    She purports to be a retrovirologist, but clearly, when it comes to anything to do with XMRV,she doesn’t behave like one. Her mind is closed and she continues to try to bolster her initial stance.

    Hence, she concludes that everything and anything linking XMRV to M.E. must be contamination.

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