A large portion of the mammalian genome is derived from ancient transposable elements. Retroelements, transported by an intracellular copy-and-paste process involving an RNA intermediate (retrotransposition), constitute a majority of these mobile genetic elements. Endogenous retroviruses are LTR-type retroelements accounting for around 8% of human or murine genomic DNA. Non-LTR members are present in extremely high copy numbers; with LINE-1 contributing to nearly 40% of human and murine genomes. These LINE-1 elements modify mammalian genomes not only through insertions, but also by indirect replication of nonautonomous retrotransposons such as SINEs. As expected, cellular machineries of vertebrate's innate immunity have evolved to support a balance between retroelement insertions that cause deleterious gene disruptions and those that confer beneficial genetic diversity. The ability of APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases targeting DNA to restrict a broad number of retroviruses and retro-elements is now well established. More recently, the RNA editing family member APOBEC1, a protein involved in lipid transport, has also been shown to be involved in keeping mobile elements under control. This review discusses current understanding of the mechanism of action of the AID/APOBEC family, and their role in controlling the retrotransposition of endogenous retroelements.
APOBEC1; APOBEC3; AID; LINE-1; retroelements; endogenous retrovirus; hypermutation; RNA editing; DNA deamination
Sequence analysis suggests that ancient recombination events may have occurred between genetically distinct retroviruses. An experimental system was utilized to explore the genetic interaction between different viruses. Moloney murine sarcoma virus and spleen necrosis virus are type C retroviruses that belong to different subgenera. With vectors containing packaging signals from these two viruses, DNA proviruses containing genetic information from both RNAs can be generated. This is the first experimental evidence to indicate that RNA from different retroviruses can copackage and exchange genetic information.
Over 40% of the human genome is recognizable as having been derived from ancient retroelements, transported by an intracellular copy-and-paste process involving an RNA intermediate, with an additional few percent classified as DNA transposable elements. Endogenous retroviruses are long terminal repeat (LTR)-type retroelements that account for ~8% of human genomic DNA. Non-LTR members are present at extremely high copy numbers, with ~17% of the human genome consisting of long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs). These LINEs modify vertebrate genomes not only through insertions, but also by the indirect replication of non-autonomous retrotransposons, such as short interspersed nuclear elements. As expected, vertebrate intrinsic immunity has evolved to support a balance between retroelement insertions that confer beneficial genetic diversity and those that cause deleterious gene disruptions. The mammalian cytidine deaminases encoded by the APOBEC3 genes can restrict a broad number of exogenous pathogens, such as exogenous retroviruses, and the mobility of endogenous retroelements. Furthermore, APOBEC1 from a variety of mammalian species, which mediates the cytidine (C) to uridine (U) deamination of apolipoprotein B (apoB) mRNA, a protein involved in lipid transport, also plays a role in controlling mobile elements. These mammalian apoB mRNA-editing, catalytic polypeptide (APOBEC) cytidine deaminases, which can bind to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) as well as RNA, are able to insert mutations into ssDNA and/or RNA as a result of their ability to deaminate C to U. While these APOBEC cytidine deaminases with DNA mutagenic activity can be deleterious to cells, their biological modifications, such as protein–protein interactions and subcellular localization, in addition to their ability to bind to RNA, appear to have conferred a role for APOBECs as a cellular defense system against retroviruses and retroelements. In support of this notion, the expansion of the single APOBEC3 gene in mice to the seven APOBEC3 genes found in primates apparently correlates with the significant enhancement of the restriction of endogenous retroelements seen in primates, including humans. This review discusses the current understanding of the mechanism of action of APOBEC cytidine deaminases and attempts to summarize their roles in controlling retrotransposons.
APOBEC1; APOBEC3; AID; retrovirus; HIV-1; LINE-1; retroelements; endogenous retrovirus
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections of the host germline transmitted vertically from generation to generation. It is hypothesized that some ERVs are used by the host as restriction factors to block the infection of pathogenic retroviruses. Indeed, some ERVs efficiently interfere with the replication of related exogenous retroviruses. However, data suggesting that these mechanisms have influenced the coevolution of endogenous and/or exogenous retroviruses and their hosts have been more difficult to obtain. Sheep are an interesting model system to study retrovirus-host coevolution because of the coexistence in this animal species of two exogenous (i.e., horizontally transmitted) oncogenic retroviruses, Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus and Enzootic nasal tumor virus, with highly related and biologically active endogenous retroviruses (enJSRVs). Here, we isolated and characterized the evolutionary history and molecular virology of 27 enJSRV proviruses. enJSRVs have been integrating in the host genome for the last 5–7 million y. Two enJSRV proviruses (enJS56A1 and enJSRV-20), which entered the host genome within the last 3 million y (before and during speciation within the genus Ovis), acquired in two temporally distinct events a defective Gag polyprotein resulting in a transdominant phenotype able to block late replication steps of related exogenous retroviruses. Both transdominant proviruses became fixed in the host genome before or around sheep domestication (∼ 9,000 y ago). Interestingly, a provirus escaping the transdominant enJSRVs has emerged very recently, most likely within the last 200 y. Thus, we determined sequentially distinct events during evolution that are indicative of an evolutionary antagonism between endogenous and exogenous retroviruses. This study strongly suggests that endogenization and selection of ERVs acting as restriction factors is a mechanism used by the host to fight retroviral infections.
The genome of all vertebrates is heavily colonized by “endogenous” retroviruses (ERVs). ERVs derive from retrovirus infections of the germ cells of the host during evolution, leading to permanent integration of the viral genome into the host DNA. Because ERVs are integrated in the host genome, they are transmitted to subsequent generations like any other host gene. The function of endogenous retroviruses is not completely clear, but some ERVs can block the replication cycle of horizontally transmitted “exogenous” pathogenic retroviruses. These observations lead to the hypothesis that ERVs have protected the host during evolution against incoming pathogenic retroviruses. Here, by characterizing the evolutionary history and molecular virology of a particular group of endogenous betaretroviruses of sheep (enJSRVs) we show a fascinating series of events unveiling the endless struggle between host and retroviruses. In particular, we discovered that: (i) two enJSRV loci that entered the host genome before speciation within the genus Ovis (∼ 3 million y ago) acquired, after their integration, a mutated defective viral protein capable of blocking exogenous related retroviruses; (ii) both these transdominant enJSRV loci became fixed in the host genome before or around sheep domestication (∼ 10,000 y ago); (iii) the invasion of the sheep genome by ERVs of the JSRV/enJSRVs group is still in progress; and (iv) new viruses have recently emerged (less than 200 y ago) that can escape the transdominant enJSRV loci. This study strongly suggests that endogenization and selection of ERVs acting as restriction factors is a mechanism used by the host to fight retroviral infections.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are genetic fossils of ancient retroviral integrations that remain in the genome of many organisms. Most loci are rendered non-functional by mutations, but several intact retroviral genes are known in mammalian genomes. Some have been adopted by the host species, while the beneficial roles of others remain unclear. Besides the obvious possible immunogenic impact from transcribing intact viral genes, endogenous retroviruses have also become an interesting and useful tool to study phylogenetic relationships. The determination of the integration time of these viruses has been based upon the assumption that both 5′ and 3′ Long Terminal Repeats (LTRs) sequences are identical at the time of integration, but evolve separately afterwards. Similar approaches have been using either a constant evolutionary rate or a range of rates for these viral loci, and only single species data. Here we show the advantages of using different approaches.
We show that there are strong advantages in using multiple species data and state-of-the-art phylogenetic analysis. We incorporate both simple phylogenetic information and Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) methods to date the integrations of these viruses based on a relaxed molecular clock approach over a Bayesian phylogeny model and applied them to several selected ERV sequences in primates. These methods treat each ERV locus as having a distinct evolutionary rate for each LTR, and make use of consensual speciation time intervals between primates to calibrate the relaxed molecular clocks.
The use of a fixed rate produces results that vary considerably with ERV family and the actual evolutionary rate of the sequence, and should be avoided whenever multi-species phylogenetic data are available. For genome-wide studies, the simple phylogenetic approach constitutes a better alternative, while still being computationally feasible.
Technological advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have drastically expanded the scope of genetic analyses of ancient specimens to the extent that full genomic investigations are now feasible and are quickly becoming standard1. This trend has important implications for infectious disease research because genomic data from ancient microbes may help to elucidate mechanisms of pathogen evolution and adaptation for emerging and re-emerging infections. Here we report a reconstructed ancient genome of Yersinia pestis at 30-fold average coverage from Black Death victims securely dated to episodes of pestilence-associated mortality in London, England, 1348–1350. Genetic architecture and phylogenetic analysis indicate that the ancient organism is ancestral to most extant strains and sits very close to the ancestral node of all Y. pestis commonly associated with human infection. Temporal estimates suggest that the Black Death of 1347–1351 was the main historical event responsible for the introduction and widespread dissemination of the ancestor to all currently circulating Y. pestis strains pathogenic to humans, and further indicates that contemporary Y. pestis epidemics have their origins in the medieval era. Comparisons against modern genomes reveal no unique derived positions in the medieval organism, indicating that the perceived increased virulence of the disease during the Black Death may not have been due to bacterial phenotype. These findings support the notion that factors other than microbial genetics, such as environment, vector dynamics and host susceptibility, should be at the forefront of epidemiological discussions regarding emerging Y. pestis infections.
Malaria parasites belong to an ancient lineage that diverged very early from the main branch of eukaryotes. The approximately 90-member plasmodial kinome includes a majority of eukaryotic protein kinases that clearly cluster within the AGC, CMGC, TKL, CaMK and CK1 groups found in yeast, plants and mammals, testifying to the ancient ancestry of these families. However, several hundred millions years of independent evolution, and the specific pressures brought about by first a photosynthetic and then a parasitic lifestyle, led to the emergence of unique features in the plasmodial kinome. These include taxon-restricted kinase families, and unique peculiarities of individual enzymes even when they have homologues in other eukaryotes. Here, we merge essential aspects of all three malaria-related communications that were presented at the Evolution of Protein Phosphorylation meeting, and propose an integrated discussion of the specific features of the parasite's kinome and phosphoproteome.
malaria; kinome; evolution; phosphoproteomics; protein kinase; comparative genomics
The emerging field of paleovirology aims to study the evolutionary age and impact of ancient viruses (paleoviruses) on host biology. Despite a historical emphasis on retroviruses, paleoviral ‘fossils’ have recently been uncovered from a broad swathe of viruses. These viral imprints have upended long-held notions of the age and mutation rate of viruses. While 'direct' paleovirology relies on the insertion of viral genes in animal genomes, examination of adaptive changes in host genes that occurred in response to paleoviral infections provides a complementary strategy for making ‘indirect’ paleovirological inferences. Finally, viruses have also impacted host biology by providing genes hosts have domesticated for their own purpose.
The genetic diversity of HIV-1 represents a major challenge in vaccine development.
In this study, we establish a rationale for eliminating HIV-1–infected
cells by targeting cellular immune responses against stable human endogenous
retroviral (HERV) antigens. HERV DNA sequences in the human genome represent the
remnants of ancient infectious retroviruses. We show that the infection of
CD4+ T cells with HIV-1 resulted in transcription of the HML-2 lineage
of HERV type K [HERV-K(HML-2)] and the expression of Gag and Env proteins.
HERV-K(HML-2)–specific CD8+ T cells obtained from
HIV-1–infected human subjects responded to HIV-1–infected
cells in a Vif-dependent manner in vitro. Consistent with the proposed mode of
action, a HERV-K(HML-2)–specific CD8+ T cell clone exhibited
comprehensive elimination of cells infected with a panel of globally diverse HIV-1,
HIV-2, and SIV isolates in vitro. We identified a second T cell response that
exhibited cross-reactivity between homologous HIV-1-Pol and HERV-K(HML-2)-Pol
determinants, raising the possibility that homology between HIV-1 and HERVs plays a
role in shaping, and perhaps enhancing, the T cell response to HIV-1. This justifies
the consideration of HERV-K(HML-2)–specific and cross-reactive T cell
responses in the natural control of HIV-1 infection and for exploring
HERV-K(HML-2)–targeted HIV-1 vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
Activation of apoptosis is one of the most ancient mechanisms to eliminate intracellular infections; the capacity to subvert this programmed cell death provides an adaptive advantage to pathogens that persist in an intracellular environment. Leishmania species are obligate intracellular parasites that primarily reside within host macrophages. We demonstrate here that Leishmania infection protects macrophages from cycloheximide induced apoptosis in a species and strain specific manner. Our data further reveal that Leishmania phosphoglycans and direct contact between parasites and host cells are required for the inhibitory phenotype.
Leishmania; apoptosis; macrophage
Kinesins are an ancient superfamily of microtubule dependent motors. They participate in an extensive and diverse list of essential cellular functions, including mitosis, cytokinesis, cell polarization, cell elongation, flagellar development, and intracellular transport. Based on phylogenetic relationships, the kinesin superfamily has been subdivided into 14 families, which are represented in most eukaryotic phyla. The functions of these families are sometimes conserved between species, but important variations in function across species have been observed. Plants possess most kinesin families including a few plant specific families. With the availability of an ever increasing number of genome sequences from plants, it is important to document the complete complement of kinesins present in a given organism. This will help develop a molecular framework to explore the function of each family using genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology. The moss Physcomitrella patens has emerged as a powerful model organism to study gene function in plants, which makes it a key candidate to explore complex gene families, such as the kinesin superfamily. Here we report a detailed phylogenetic characterization of the 71 kinesins of the kinesin superfamily in Physcomitrella. We found a remarkable conservation of families and subfamily classes with Arabidopsis, which is important for future comparative analysis of function. Some of the families, such as kinesins 14s are composed of fewer members in moss, while other families, such as the kinesin 12s are greatly expanded. To improve the comparison between species, and to simplify communication between research groups, we propose a classification of subfamilies based on our phylogenetic analysis.
phylogenetic analysis; kinesin; microtubule; moss; phragmoplast; gene knockout; intracellular motility; intracellular transport
Because of evolutionary pressures imposed through episodic colonization by retroviruses, many mammals express factors, such as TRIM5α and APOBEC3 proteins, that directly restrict retroviral replication. TRIM5 and APOBEC restriction factors are most often studied in the context of modern primate lentiviruses, but it is likely that ancient retroviruses imposed the selective pressure that is evident in primate TRIM5 and APOBEC3 genes. Moreover, these antiretroviral factors have been shown to act against a variety of retroviruses, including gammaretroviruses. Endogenous retroviruses can provide a ‘fossil record’ of extinct retroviruses and perhaps evidence of ancient TRIM5 and APOBEC3 antiviral activity. Here, we investigate whether TRIM5 and APOBEC3 proteins restricted the replication of two groups of gammaretroviruses that were endogenized in the past few million years. These endogenous retroviruses appear quite widespread in the genomes of old world primates but failed to colonize the human germline. Our analyses suggest that TRIM5α proteins did not pose a major barrier to the cross-species transmission of these two families of gammaretroviruses, and did not contribute to their extinction. However, we uncovered extensive evidence for inactivation of ancient gammaretroviruses through the action of APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases. Interestingly, the identities of the cytidine deaminases responsible for inactivation appear to have varied in both a virus and host species–dependent manner. Overall, sequence analyses and reconstitution of ancient retroviruses from remnants that have been preserved in the genomes of modern organisms offer the opportunity to probe and potentially explain the evolutionary history of host defenses against retroviruses.
Retroviruses integrate their genomes into host-cell DNA as an essential part of their replication cycle. If a retrovirus is integrated into a cell that becomes a germ line cell such as a sperm or an egg, then it may be inherited as an ‘endogenous’ retrovirus. In fact, endogenous retroviruses are extraordinarily common in mammalian DNA, constituting about 8% of human DNA. These endogenous retroviruses are mostly derived from ancient viruses that are now extinct. In this study, we recovered parts of two groups of extinct retroviruses, many strains of which became integrated into genomes of many nonhuman primates over the past few million years, but are absent from human DNA. We were able to generate infectious retroviruses by inserting a part of the extinct viruses into a modern retrovirus found in mice, and in so doing were able to functionally analyze properties of the extinct virus. Using a combination of these functional analyses, as well as sequence analysis, we obtained evidence that some rapidly evolving host defense molecules present in modern primates were able to inhibit the replication of these extinct viruses. Therefore, particular host defenses may have limited transmission of ancient retroviruses between species and perhaps contributed to their extinction.
Long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons are not only the ancient predecessors of retroviruses, but they constitute significant fractions of the genomes of many eukaryotic species. Studies of their structure and function are motivated by opportunities to gain insight into common functions of retroviruses and retrotransposons, diverse mechanisms of intracellular genomic mobility and host factors that diminish or enhance retrotransposition. This review focuses on the nucleocapsid (NC) protein of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae LTR retrotransposon, the metavirus, Ty3. Retrovirus NC promotes genomic (g)RNA dimerization and packaging, tRNA primer annealing, reverse transcription strand transfers, and host protein interactions with gRNA. Studies of Ty3 NC have revealed key roles for Ty3 NC in formation of retroelement assembly sites (retrosomes), and in chaperoning primer tRNA to both dimerize and circularize Ty3 gRNA. We speculate that Ty3 NC, together with P-body and stress-granule proteins, plays a role in transitioning Ty3 RNA from translation template to gRNA, and that interactions between the acidic spacer domain of Ty3 Gag3 and the adjacent basic NC domain control condensation of the virus-like particle.
nucleocapsid; retroelement; retrotransposon; retrovirus; Ty; reverse transcription; assembly
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) persistently infects and survives within the host macrophages. Substantial genotypic variation exists among MTB strains which correlate with their interactions with the host. The present study was designed to establish a correlation, if any, between infection and induction of innate immune response by genetically diverse drug resistant MTB isolates from India. For this purpose, three clinical isolates from ancient and modern lineages, along with H37Ra and H37Rv were evaluated for intracellular growth, phagocytic index, induction of proinflammatory cytokines and apoptosis following infection in THP-1 cell line. A wide variation in the induction of cytokines was revealed subsequent to infection with different strains. EAI-5 strain from ancient lineage 1, induced higher proinflammatory responses, higher apoptosis and moderate intracellular growth compared to other strains, in contrast, for Beijing strain of modern lineage 2, all three parameters were lowest among the clinical isolates. Further, the responses induced by LAM-6 from modern lineage 4 were at a moderate level, similar to the laboratory strain H37Rv which also belongs to lineage 4. Thus, these profiles were specific to their respective lineages and/or genotypes and independent of their drug resistance status. Further, a positive correlation, among TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-12 induced in infected THP-1 cells was demonstrated. In addition, induction of all pro-inflammatory cytokines correlated well with the host cell apoptosis. A positive correlation was observed between phagocytic index in the category of ‘>10 bacilli/cell’ and induction of apoptosis, only for virulent strains, indicating that initial accumulation of MTB strains inside the host cell may be an important determining factor for different innate responses.
Residence in the human erythrocyte is essential for the lifecycle of all Plasmodium that infect man. It is also the phase of the life cycle that causes disease. Although the red blood cell (RBC) is a highly specialized cell for its function of carrying oxygen to and carbon dioxide away from tissues, it is devoid of organelles and lacks any cellular machinery to synthesize new protein. Therefore in order to be able to survive and multiply within the RBC membrane the parasite needs to make many modifications to the infected RBC (iRBC). Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) also expresses parasite-derived proteins on the surface of the iRBC that enable the parasite to cytoadhere to endothelial and other intravascular cells. These RBC modifications are at the root of malaria pathogenesis and, in this ancient disease of man, have formed the epicentre of a genetic ‘battle’ between parasite and host. This review discusses some of the critical modifications of the RBC by the parasite and some of the consequences of these adaptations on disease in the human host, with an emphasis on advances in understanding of the pathogenesis of severe and cerebral malaria (CM) from recent research.
P. falciparum; PfEMP1; sequestration; cerebral malaria; RBC polymorphisms
Parasites can be used as unique markers to investigate host evolutionary history, independent of host data. Here we show that modern human head lice, Pediculus humanus, are composed of two ancient lineages, whose origin predates modern Homo sapiens by an order of magnitude (ca. 1.18 million years). One of the two louse lineages has a worldwide distribution and appears to have undergone a population bottleneck ca. 100,000 years ago along with its modern H. sapiens host. Phylogenetic and population genetic data suggest that the other lineage, found only in the New World, has remained isolated from the worldwide lineage for the last 1.18 million years. The ancient divergence between these two lice is contemporaneous with splits among early species of Homo, and cospeciation analyses suggest that the two louse lineages codiverged with a now extinct species of Homo and the lineage leading to modern H. sapiens. If these lice indeed codiverged with their hosts ca. 1.18 million years ago, then a recent host switch from an archaic species of Homo to modern H. sapiens is required to explain the occurrence of both lineages on modern H. sapiens. Such a host switch would require direct physical contact between modern and archaic forms of Homo.
A phylogenetic analysis reveals that humans have two types of head lice and that one must have switched from an ancient to a modern human host, suggesting these humans had contact
Ancient human DNA has been treated cautiously ever since the problems related to this type of material were exposed in the early 1990s, but as sequential genetic data from ancient specimens have been key components in several evolutionary and ecological studies, interest in ancient human DNA is on the increase again. It is especially tempting to approach archaeological and anthropological questions through this type of material, but DNA from ancient human tissue is notoriously complicated to work with due to the risk of contamination with modern human DNA. Various ways of authenticating results based on ancient human DNA have been developed to circumvent the problems. One commonly used method is to predict what the contamination is expected to look like and then test whether the ancient human DNA fulfils this prediction. If it does, the results are rejected as contamination, while if it does not, they are often considered authentic. We show here that human contamination in ancient material may well deviate from local allele frequencies or the distributions to be found among the laboratory workers and archaeologists. We conclude that it is not reliable to authenticate ancient human DNA solely by showing that it is different from what would be expected from people who have handled the material.
Host-parasite coevolution can result in balancing selection, which maintains genetic variation in the susceptibility of hosts to parasites. It has been suggested that variation in a thioester-containing protein called TEP1 (AGAP010815) may alter the ability of Anopheles mosquitoes to transmit Plasmodium parasites, and high divergence between alleles of this gene suggests the possible action of long-term balancing selection. We studied whether TEP1 is a case of an ancient balanced polymorphism in an animal immune system.
We found evidence that the high divergence between TEP1 alleles is the product of genetic exchange between TEP1 and other TEP loci, i.e. gene conversion. Additionally, some TEP1 alleles showed unexpectedly low variability.
The TEP1 gene appears to be a chimera produced from at least two other TEP loci, and the divergence between TEP1 alleles is probably not caused by long-term balancing selection, but is instead due to two independent gene conversion events from one of these other genes. Nevertheless, TEP1 still shows evidence of natural selection, in particular there appears to have been recent changes in the frequency of alleles that has diminished polymorphism within each allelic class. Although the selective force driving this dynamic was not identified, given that susceptibility to Plasmodium parasites is known to be associated with allelic variation in TEP1, these changes in allele frequencies could alter the vectoring capacity of populations.
Microsporidia are ancient, intracellular, eukaryotic protozoan parasites that form spores and that lack mitochondria. Currently, as many as eight species included under six genera are known to infect humans, mostly patients with AIDS. Among these, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, the agent of gastrointestinal (GI) disease, is the most frequently identified microsporidian in clinical laboratories in the United States. Encephalitozoon (Septata) intestinalis, the agent that causes a disseminated infection including infection of the GI tract, is the second most frequently identified microsporidian parasite. In spite of this, not many isolates of E. intestinalis have been established in culture. We describe here the continuous cultivation of eight isolates of E. intestinalis obtained from different samples including the urine, sputum, and duodenal aspirate or biopsy specimens from five AIDS patients originating from California, Colorado, and Georgia. The specific identification was made on the bases of ultrastructural, antigenic, and PCR analyses.
Reticuloendotheliosis viruses are mammalian retroviruses that were transmitted to avian hosts through inadvertent human intervention, and subsequently integrated their genetic material into the genomes of large DNA viruses, generating novel recombinant pathogens that now circulate naturally in poultry and wild birds.
The reticuloendotheliosis viruses (REVs) comprise several closely related amphotropic retroviruses isolated from birds. These viruses exhibit several highly unusual characteristics that have not so far been adequately explained, including their extremely close relationship to mammalian retroviruses, and their presence as endogenous sequences within the genomes of certain large DNA viruses. We present evidence for an iatrogenic origin of REVs that accounts for these phenomena. Firstly, we identify endogenous retroviral fossils in mammalian genomes that share a unique recombinant structure with REVs—unequivocally demonstrating that REVs derive directly from mammalian retroviruses. Secondly, through sequencing of archived REV isolates, we confirm that contaminated Plasmodium lophurae stocks have been the source of multiple REV outbreaks in experimentally infected birds. Finally, we show that both phylogenetic and historical evidence support a scenario wherein REVs originated as mammalian retroviruses that were accidentally introduced into avian hosts in the late 1930s, during experimental studies of P. lophurae, and subsequently integrated into the fowlpox virus (FWPV) and gallid herpesvirus type 2 (GHV-2) genomes, generating recombinant DNA viruses that now circulate in wild birds and poultry. Our findings provide a novel perspective on the origin and evolution of REV, and indicate that horizontal gene transfer between virus families can expand the impact of iatrogenic transmission events.
Retroviruses are characterized by their ability to insert a DNA copy of their genome into the chromosomes of infected cells. Occasionally, retroviruses insert into “germline” cells and are subsequently inherited as host alleles called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Vertebrate genomes contain thousands of ERV sequences derived from ancient retroviruses, and these viral sequences serve as molecular “fossils” that can be used to explore how retroviruses have evolved over millions of years. Here we combine an analysis of the retroviral “fossil record” with a phylogenetic and historical investigation to determine the origin of a group of avian retroviruses called reticuloendotheliosis viruses (REVs). We present evidence to demonstrate that rather than arising from natural infections of birds, REVs are in fact derived from mammalian retroviruses that were accidentally introduced into avian hosts during experimental studies of a malaria parasite in the late 1930s. Remarkably, REVs have subsequently inserted into the genomes of two large DNA viruses that infect birds, generating chimeric viruses that now circulate naturally in poultry and wild birds.
TRIM5α proteins recruit and restrict incoming cytoplasmic retroviruses. Primate TRIM5α sequence diversity underlies species-specific restriction and is likely caused by selective pressure from ancient pathogenic infections. Here we show that TRIM5α from the European brown hare restricts diverse retroviruses. Furthermore, it differs significantly in sequence from TRIM5α from the closely related rabbit, suggesting evolutionary changes in the last 12 million years since these species diverged. We propose that, like primates, lagomorphs have been subject to selective pressure from TRIM5-sensitive viruses, possibly related to the endogenous lentivirus RELIK found in both rabbits and hares.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) arise from ancient infections of the host germline cells by exogenous retroviruses, constituting 8% of the human genome. Elevated level of envelope transcripts from HERVs-W has been detected in CSF, plasma and brain tissues from patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), most of them from Xq22.3, 15q21.3, and 6q21 chromosomes. However, since the locus Xq22.3 (ERVWE2) lack the 5′ LTR promoter and the putative protein should be truncated due to a stop codon, we investigated the ERVWE2 genomic loci from 84 individuals, including MS patients with active HERV-W expression detected in PBMC. In addition, an automated search for promoter sequences in 20 kb nearby region of ERVWE2 reference sequence was performed. Several putative binding sites for cellular cofactors and enhancers were found, suggesting that transcription may occur via alternative promoters. However, ERVWE2 DNA sequencing of MS and healthy individuals revealed that all of them harbor a stop codon at site 39, undermining the expression of a full-length protein. Finally, since plaque formation in central nervous system (CNS) of MS patients is attributed to immunological mechanisms triggered by autoimmune attack against myelin, we also investigated the level of similarity between envelope protein and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Comparison of the MOG to the envelope identified five retroviral regions similar to the Ig-like domain of MOG. Interestingly, one of them includes T and B cell epitopes, capable to induce T effector functions and circulating Abs in rats. In sum, although no DNA substitutions that would link ERVWE2 to the MS pathogeny was found, the similarity between the envelope protein to MOG extends the idea that ERVEW2 may be involved on the immunopathogenesis of MS, maybe facilitating the MOG recognizing by the immune system. Although awaiting experimental evidences, the data presented here may expand the scope of the endogenous retroviruses involvement on MS pathogenesis.
multiple sclerosis; immunopathogeny; endogenous retroviruses; ERVWE2; genetic association; MOG
Retroviruses cause cancers in a variety of animals and humans. Research on retroviruses has provided important insights into mechanisms of oncogenesis in humans, including the discovery of viral oncogenes and cellular proto-oncogenes. The subject of this review is the mechanisms by which retroviruses that do not carry oncogenes (non-acute retroviruses) cause cancers. The common theme is that these tumors result from insertional activation of cellular proto-oncogenes by integration of viral DNA. Early research on insertional activation of proto-oncogenes in virus-induced tumors is reviewed. Research on non-acute retroviruses has led to the discovery of new proto-oncogenes through searches for common insertion sites (CISs) in virus-induced tumors. Cooperation between different proto-oncogenes in development of tumors has been elucidated through the study of retrovirus-induced tumors, and retroviral infection of genetically susceptible mice (retroviral tagging) has been used to identify cellular proto-oncogenes active in specific oncogenic pathways. The pace of proto-oncogene discovery has been accelerated by technical advances including PCR cloning of viral integration sites, the availability of the mouse genome sequence, and high throughput DNA sequencing. Insertional activation has proven to be a significant risk in gene therapy trials to correct genetic defects with retroviral vectors. Studies on non-acute retroviral oncogenesis provide insight into the potential risks, and the mechanisms of oncogenesis.
retrovirus; proto-oncogene; oncogenesis; retroviral vector; oncogene; non-acute retrovirus; gene therapy
Since the human genome sequences became available in 2001, our knowledge about the human transposable elements which comprise ∼40% of the total nucleotides has been expanding. Non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons are actively transposing in the present-day human genome, and have been found to cause ∼100 identified clinical cases of varied disorders. In contrast, almost all of the human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) originating from ancient infectious retroviruses lost their infectivity and transposing activity at various times before the human-chimpanzee speciation (∼6 million years ago), and no known HERV is presently infectious. Insertion of HERVs and mammalian apparent LTR retrotransposons (MaLRs) into the chromosomal DNA influenced a number of host genes in various modes during human evolution. Apart from the aspect of genome evolution, HERVs and solitary LTRs being suppressed in normal biological processes can potentially act as extra transcriptional apparatuses of cellular genes by re-activation in individuals. There has been a reasonable prediction that aberrant LTR activation could trigger malignant disorders and autoimmune responses if epigenetic changes including DNA hypomethylation occur in somatic cells. Evidence supporting this hypothesis has begun to emerge only recently: a MaLR family LTR activation in the pathogenesis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a HERV-E antigen expression in an anti-renal cell carcinoma immune response. This mini review addresses the impacts of the remnant-form LTR retrotransposons on human pathogenesis.
human endogenous retrovirus; HERV; long terminal repeat; LTR; cancer; retrotransposon; autoimmune
Foamy viruses (FVs) are ancient retroviruses that are ubiquitous in nonhuman primates (NHPs). While FVs share many features with pathogenic retroviruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus, FV infections of their primate hosts have no apparent pathological consequences. Paradoxically, FV infections of many cell types in vitro are rapidly cytopathic. Previous work has shown that low levels of proviral DNA are found in most tissues of naturally infected rhesus macaques, but these proviruses are primarily latent. In contrast, viral RNA, indicative of viral replication, is restricted to tissues of the oral mucosa, where it is abundant. Here, we perform in situ hybridization on tissues from rhesus macaques naturally infected with simian FV (SFV). We show that superficial differentiated epithelial cells of the oral mucosa, many of which appear to be shedding from the tissue, are the major cell type in which SFV replicates. Thus, the innocuous nature of SFV infection can be explained by replication that is limited to differentiated superficial cells that are short-lived and shed into saliva. This finding can also explain the highly efficient transmission of FVs among NHPs.