Authors pull virus replication paper after they cannot replicate results

Researchers in China have retracted a 2016 paper exploring the replication behaviors of a retrovirus, after discovering that the key results could not be reproduced — possibly because their cell cultures had been contaminated.

The authors also cite a disagreement with a colleague, who they say contributed to the work but does not want to be listed as an author.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Nuclear import of prototype foamy virus transactivator Bel1 is mediated by KPNA1, KPNA6 and KPNA7,” published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine:

We would like to retract the article entitled “Nuclear import of prototype foamy virus transactivator Bel1 is mediated by KPNA1, KPNA6 and KPNA7” published in International Journal of Molecular Medicine 38: 339-406, 2016. The results presented in Fig. 6 have been demonstrated to be unreproducible, and we cannot provide an explanation for this. Furthermore, we have recently identified that the cell cultures used in our experiments were partly contaminated with Mycoplasma, which could have contributed to the irreproducibility of the results. In addition, we are currently in dispute with a colleague who has contributed towards this study, but does not wish to be included as a named author on the paper. We are therefore going to retract this article. All the authors unanimously agree to the retraction of this paper, and we deeply apologize to readers and editors for any inconvenience caused by this retraction.

According to the 2016 article, the results depicted in Figure 6 support the authors’ conclusion that the “nuclear import of Bel1 in cells is mediated by KPNA1, KPNA6 and KPNA7,” as the paper title also states.

We’ve seen far too many papers taken down by problems with contamination of cell cultures.

We contacted the journal’s editor in chief, Demetrios Spandidos, and the paper’s corresponding author Jihui Duan, from Tianjin First Center Hospital in China, and will update if we hear back.

Hat Tip: Rolf Degen

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