We sought to determine the relationship between two recent additions to the murine leukemia virus (MLV) ecotropic subgroup: Mus cervicolor isolate M813 and Mus spicilegus endogenous retrovirus HEMV. Though divergent in sequence, the two viruses share an Env protein with similarly curtailed VRA and VRB regions, and infection by both is restricted to mouse cells. HEMV and M813 displayed reciprocal receptor interference, suggesting that they share a receptor. Expression of the M813 receptor murine sodium-dependent myo-inositol transporter 1 (mSMIT1) allowed previously nonpermissive cells to be infected by HEMV, indicating that mSMIT1 also serves as a receptor for HEMV. Our findings add HEMV as a second member to the MLV subgroup that uses mSMIT1 to gain entry into cells.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), including murine leukemia virus (MuLV) type-ERVs (MuLV-ERVs), are presumed to occupy ~10% of the mouse genome. In this study, following the identification of a full-length MuLV-ERV by in silico survey of the C57BL/6J mouse genome, its distribution in different mouse strains and expression characteristics were investigated.
Application of a set of ERV mining protocols identified a MuLV-ERV locus with full coding potential on chromosome 8 (named ERVmch8). It appears that ERVmch8 shares the same genomic locus with a replication-incompetent MuLV-ERV, called Emv2; however, it was not confirmed due to a lack of relevant annotation and Emv2 sequence information. The ERVmch8 sequence was more prevalent in laboratory strains compared to wild-derived strains. Among 16 different tissues of ~12 week-old female C57BL/6J mice, brain homogenate was the only tissue with evident expression of ERVmch8. Further ERVmch8 expression analysis in six different brain compartments and four peripheral neuronal tissues of C57BL/6J mice revealed no significant expression except for the cerebellum in which the ERVmch8 locus' low methylation status was unique compared to the other brain compartments. The ERVmch8 locus was found to be surrounded by genes associated with neuronal development and/or inflammation. Interestingly, cerebellum-specific ERVmch8 expression was age-dependent with almost no expression at 2 weeks and a plateau at 6 weeks.
The ecotropic ERVmch8 locus on the C57BL/6J mouse genome was relatively undermethylated in the cerebellum, and its expression was cerebellum-specific and age-dependent.
For retroviruses such as HIV-1 and murine leukemia virus (MLV), active receptor recruitment and trafficking occur during viral entry. However, the underlying mechanisms and cellular factors involved in the process are largely uncharacterized. The viral receptor for ecotropic MLV (eMLV), a classical model for retrovirus infection mechanisms and pathogenesis, is mouse cationic amino acid transporter 1 (mCAT-1). Growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2) is an adaptor protein that has been shown to couple cell surface receptors, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and hepatocyte growth factor receptor, to intracellular signaling events. Here we examined if GRB2 could also play a role in controlling infection by retroviruses by affecting receptor function. The GRB2 RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated suppression of endogenous GRB2 resulted in a consistent and significant reduction of virus binding and membrane fusion. The binding between eMLV and cells promoted increased GRB2–mCAT-1 interactions, as detected by immunoprecipitation. Consistently, the increased colocalization of GRB2 and mCAT-1 signals was detected by confocal microscopy. This association was time dependent and paralleled the kinetics of cell-virus membrane fusion. Interestingly, unlike the canonical binding pattern seen for GRB2 and growth factor receptors, GRB2–mCAT-1 binding does not depend on the GRB2-SH2 domain-mediated recognition of tyrosine phosphorylation on the receptor. The inhibition of endogenous GRB2 led to a reduction in surface levels of mCAT-1, which was detected by immunoprecipitation and by a direct binding assay using a recombinant MLV envelope protein receptor binding domain (RBD). Consistent with this observation, the expression of a dominant negative GRB2 mutant (R86K) resulted in the sequestration of mCAT-1 from the cell surface into intracellular vesicles. Taken together, these findings suggest a novel role for GRB2 in ecotropic MLV entry and infection by facilitating mCAT-1 trafficking.
Viruslike particles which displayed a peculiar wheellike appearance that distinguished them from A-, B- or C-type particles had previously been described in the early mouse embryo. The maximum expression of these so-called epsilon particles was observed in two-cell-stage embryos, followed by their rapid decline at later stages of development and no particles detected at the zygote one-cell stage. Here, we show that these particles are in fact produced by a newly discovered murine endogenous retrovirus (ERV) belonging to the widespread family of mammalian ERV-L elements and named MuERV-L. Using antibodies that we raised against the Gag protein of these elements, Western blot analysis and in toto immunofluorescence studies of the embryos at various stages disclosed the same developmental expression profile as that observed for epsilon particles. Using expression vectors for cloned, full-length, entirely coding MuERV-L copies and cell transfection, direct identification of the epsilon particles was finally achieved by high-resolution electron microscopy.
About 10 % of the mouse genome is occupied by sequences associated with endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). However, a comprehensive profile of the mouse ERVs and related elements has not been established yet. In this study, we identified a group of ERVs from the mouse genome and characterized their biological properties. Using a custom ERV mining protocol, 191 ERVs (159 loci reported previously and 32 new loci), tentatively named Mus dunni endogenous virus (MDEV)-like ERVs (MDL-ERVs), were mapped on the C57BL/6J mouse genome. Seven of them retained putative full coding potentials for three retroviral polypeptides (gag, pol, and env). Among the 57 mouse strains examined, all but the Mus pahari/Ei strain had PCR amplicons corresponding to a conserved MDL-ERV region. Interestingly, the Mus caroli/EiJ’s amplicon was somewhat larger than the others, coinciding with a substantial phylogenetic distance between the MDL-ERV populations of Mus caroli/EiJ and C57BL/6J strains. MDLERVs were highly expressed in the lung, spleen, and thymus of C57BL/6J mice compared to the brain, heart, kidney, and liver. Seven MDL-ERVs were mapped in the introns of six annotated genes. Of interest, some MDL-ERVs were mapped periodically on three clusters in the chromosome X. The finding that these MDL-ERVs were one of several types of retroelements, which form mosaic-repeat units of tandem arrays, suggests that the formation of the mosaicrepeat unit preceded the tandem arrangement event. Further studies are warranted to understand the biological roles of MDL-ERVs in both normal and pathologic conditions.
The XC cell line undergoes extensive syncytium formation after infection with ecotropic murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) and is frequently used to titrate these viruses. This cell line is unique in its response to the ecotropic MLV envelope protein (Env) in that it undergoes syncytium formation with cells expressing Env protein containing R peptide (R+ Env), which is known to suppress the fusogenic potential of the Env protein in other susceptible cells. To analyze the ecotropic receptor, CAT1, in XC cells, a mouse CAT1 tagged with the influenza virus hemagglutinin epitope (mCAT1-HA)-expressing retroviral vector was inoculated into XC and NIH 3T3 cells. The molecular size of the mCAT1-HA protein expressed in XC cells was smaller than that in NIH 3T3 cells due to altered N glycosylation in XC cells. Treatment of XC cells with tunicamycin significantly suppressed the formation of XC cell syncytia induced by the R+ Env protein but not that induced by the R− Env protein. This result indicates that N glycosylation is required for XC cell-specific syncytium formation by the R+ Env protein. The R+ Env protein induced syncytia in XC cells expressing a mutant mCAT1 lacking both of two N glycosylation sites, and tunicamycin treatment suppressed syncytium formation by R+ Env in those cells. This suggests that N glycosylation of a molecule(s) other than the receptor is required for the induction of XC cell syncytia by the R+ Env protein.
The mammalian host has developed a long-standing symbiotic relationship with a considerable number of microbial species. These include the microbiota on environmental surfaces, such as the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracks1, and also endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), comprising a substantial fraction of the mammalian genome2,3. The long-term consequences for the host of interaction with these microbial species can range from mutualism to parasitism and are not always completely understood. The potential impact of one microbial symbiont on another is even less clear. We have studied the control of ERVs in the commonly-used C57BL/6 (B6) mouse strain, which lacks endogenous murine leukaemia viruses (MLVs) able to replicate in murine cells. We demonstrate the spontaneous emergence of fully infectious ecotropic4 MLV (eMLV) in B6 mice with a range of distinct immune deficiencies affecting antibody production. These recombinant retroviruses establish infection of immunodeficient mouse colonies, and ultimately result in retrovirus-induced lymphomas. Notably, ERV activation in immune-deficient mice is prevented in husbandry conditions associated with reduced or absent intestinal microbiota. Our results shed light onto a previously unappreciated role for immunity in the control of ERVs and provide a potential mechanistic link between immune activation by microbial triggers and a range of pathologies associated with ERVs, including cancer.
The IAPE (Intracisternal A-type Particles elements with an Envelope) family of murine endogenous retroelements is present at more than 200 copies in the mouse genome. We had previously identified a single copy that proved to be fully functional, i.e. which can generate viral particles budding out of the cell and infectious on a series of cells, including human cells. We also showed that IAPE are the progenitors of the highly reiterated IAP elements. The latter are now strictly intracellular retrotransposons, due to the loss of the envelope gene and re-localisation of the associated particles in the course of evolution. In the present study we searched for the cellular receptor of the IAPE elements, by using a lentiviral human cDNA library and a pseudotype assay on transduced cells. We identified Ephrin A4, a GPI-anchored molecule involved in several developmental processes, as a receptor for the IAPE pseudotypes. We also found that the other 4 members of the Ephrin A family –but not those of the closely related Ephrin B family- were also able to mediate IAPE cell entry, thus significantly increasing the amount of possible cell types susceptible to IAPE infection. We show that these include mouse germline cells, as illustrated by immunohistochemistry experiments, consistent with IAPE genomic amplification by successive re-infection. We propose that the uncovered properties of the identified receptors played a role in the accumulation of IAPE elements in the mouse genome, and in the survival of a functional copy.
In mammals, nearly half the genome is composed of reiterated scattered sequences. Some of them, called endogenous retroviruses, have a structure similar to that observed for the integrated form of infectious retroviruses. The current theory to account for their presence is that an infectious retrovirus once infected the germline of its host. This viral genome was then transmitted to the progeny and expressed from there, producing new infectious particles, which could re-infect new germline cells and thus increase the viral genomic copy number. However no evidence has yet been provided to support this model. In this study, we identify a family of five cellular proteins, the Ephrin As, as receptors for a model mouse family of endogenous retroviruses, the IAPE elements. We analyse their expression pattern and show that both the oocytes and some male germline cells express Ephrin A proteins and can thus be infected by IAPE particles. This finding strongly supports the current model of ERVs amplification. In addition, the IAPE envelope ability to use five different cellular receptors suggests that it might be impossible for the host to evolve a resistance against this viral element, and provides a clue on how the IAPE family survived so long in the mouse genome.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) constitute approximately 8−10% of the human and mouse genome. Some autoimmune diseases are attributed to the altered expression of ERVs. In this study, we examined the ERV expression profiles in lymphoid tissues and analyzed their biological properties. Tissues (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes [axillary, inguinal, and mesenteric]) from C57BL/6J mice were analyzed for differential murine ERV (MuERV) expression by RT-PCR examination of polymorphic U3 sequences. Each tissue had a unique profile of MuERV expression. A genomic map identifying 60 putative MuERVs was established using 22 unique U3s as probes and their biological properties (primer binding site, coding potential, transcription regulatory element, tropism, recombination event, and integration age) were characterized. Interestingly, 12 putative MuERVs retained intact coding potentials for all three polypeptides essential for virus assembly and replication. We suggest that MuERV expression is differentially regulated in conjunction with the transcriptional environment of individual lymphoid tissues.
endogenous retrovirus; spleen; thymus; lymph node; coding potential; transcription; genome
The entry of retroviruses into cells depends on receptor recognition by the viral envelope surface subunit SU followed by membrane fusion, which is thought to be mediated by a fusion peptide located at the amino terminus of the envelope transmembrane subunit TM. Several fusion determinants have been previously identified in murine leukemia virus (MLV) envelopes, but their functional interrelationships as well as the processes involved in fusion activation upon retroviral receptor recognition remain unelucidated. Despite both structural and functional similarities of their envelope glycoproteins, ecotropic and amphotropic MLVs display two different postbinding properties: (i) while amphotropic MLVs fuse the cells at neutral pH, penetration of ecotropic MLVs is relatively acid pH dependent and (ii) ecotropic envelopes are more efficient than amphotropic envelopes in inducing cell-to-cell fusion and syncytium formation. By exploiting the latter characteristic in the analysis of chimeras of ecotropic and amphotropic MLV envelopes, we show here that substitution of the ecotropic MLV proline-rich region (PRR), located in the SU between the amino-terminal receptor binding domain and the TM-interacting SU carboxy-terminal domains, is sufficient to revert the amphotropic low-fusogenic phenotype into a high-fusogenic one. Furthermore, we have identified potential β-turns in the PRR that control the stability of SU-TM associations as well as the thresholds required to trigger either cell-to-cell or virus-to-cell fusion. These data, demonstrating that the PRR functions as a signal which induces envelope conformational changes leading to fusion, have enabled us to derive envelopes which can infect cells harboring low levels of available amphotropic receptors.
A recessive genetic screen of an insertionally mutated Blm-/- ES cell library identifies host factors required for retroviral infection, and confirms that mCat-1 is the ecotropic murine leukaemia virus receptor in ES cells.
Host factors required for retroviral infection are potential targets for the modulation of diseases caused by retroviruses. During the retroviral life cycle, numerous cellular factors interact with the virus and play an essential role in infection. Cultured embryonic stem (ES) cells are susceptible to retroviral infection, therefore providing access to all of the genes required for this process to take place. In order to identify the host factors involved in retroviral infection, we designed and implemented a scheme for identifying ES cells that are resistant to retroviral infection and subsequent cloning of the mutated gene.
A library of mutant ES cells was established by genome-wide insertional mutagenesis in Blm-deficient ES cells, and a screen was performed by superinfection of the library at high multiplicity with a recombinant retrovirus carrying a positive and negative selection cassette. Stringent negative selection was then used to exclude the infected ES cells. We successfully recovered five independent clones of ES cells that are resistant to retroviral infection. Analysis of the mutations in these clones revealed four different homozygous and one compound heterozygous mutation in the mCat-1 locus, which confirms that mCat-1 is the ecotropic murine leukemia virus receptor in ES cells.
We have demonstrated the feasibility and reliability of this recessive genetic approach to identifying critical genes required for retroviral infection in ES cells; the approach provides a unique opportunity to recover other cellular factors required for retroviral infection. The resulting insertionally mutated Blm-deficient ES cell library might also provide access to essential host cell components that are required for infection and replication for other types of virus.
We have previously reported a set of Moloney murine leukemia virus derived envelopes retargeted to the Pit-2 phosphate transporter molecule, by insertion of the Pit-2 binding domain (BD) at the N terminus of the ecotropic retroviral envelope glycoproteins (S. Valsesia-Wittmann et al., J. Virol. 70:2059-2064, 1996). The resulting chimeric envelopes share two BDs: an additional N-terminal BD (Pit-2 BD) and the BD of the ecotropic envelope (mCAT-1 BD). By inserting a variety of different amino acid spacers between the two binding domains, we showed that retroviruses can potentially use the targeted cell surface receptor Pit-2, the ecotropic retroviral receptor mCAT-1, or both receptors cooperatively for entry into target cell (S. Valsesia-Wittmann et al., EMBO J 6:1214–1223, 1997). An extreme example of receptor cooperativity was encountered when envelopes with specific proline-rich interdomain spacers (PRO spacers) were tested: both receptors had to be coexpressed at the surface of the targeted cells to cooperatively allow infection. Here, we characterized the role of PRO spacer in the cooperation of receptors. We have shown that the particular organization of the PRO spacer—a β-turn polyproline—was responsible for the cooperative effect. In the native configuration of the viruses, the structure masked the regions located downstream of the PRO spacer, thus the mCAT-1 BD. After interaction with the targeted Pit-2 receptor, the BD of the backbone envelope became accessible, and we demonstrated that interaction between the mCAT-1 BD and the mCAT-1 receptor is absolutely necessary. This interaction leads to natural fusion triggering and entry of viruses into targeted cells.
Retroviruses, like all enveloped viruses, must incorporate viral glycoproteins to form infectious particles. Interactions between the glycoprotein cytoplasmic tail and the matrix domain of Gag are thought to direct recruitment of glycoproteins to native virions for many retroviruses. However, retroviruses can also incorporate glycoproteins from other viruses to form infectious virions known as pseudotyped particles. The glycoprotein murine leukemia virus (MLV) Env can readily form pseudotyped particles with many retroviruses, suggesting a generic mechanism for recruitment. Here, we sought to identify which components of Gag, particularly the matrix domain, contribute to recruitment of MLV Env into retroviral particles. Unexpectedly, we discovered that the matrix domain of HIV-1 Gag is dispensable for generic recruitment, since it could be replaced with a nonviral membrane-binding domain without blocking active incorporation of MLV Env into HIV virions. However, MLV Env preferentially assembles with MLV virions. When MLV and HIV particles are produced from the same cell, MLV Env is packaged almost exclusively by MLV particles, thus preventing incorporation into HIV particles. Surprisingly, the matrix domain of MLV Gag is not required for this selectivity, since MLV Gag containing the matrix domain from HIV is still able to outcompete HIV particles for MLV Env. Although MLV Gag is sufficient for selective incorporation to occur, no single Gag domain dictates the selectivity. Our findings indicate that Env recruitment is more complex than previously believed and that Gag assembly/budding sites have fundamental properties that affect glycoprotein incorporation.
Glycoproteins derived from most retroviruses and from several families of enveloped viruses can form infectious pseudotypes with murine leukemia virus (MLV) and lentiviral core particles, like the MLV envelope glycoproteins (Env) that are incorporated on either virus type. However, coexpression of a given glycoprotein with heterologous core proteins does not always give rise to highly infectious viral particles, and restrictions on pseudotype formation have been reported. To understand the mechanisms that control the recruitment of viral surface glycoproteins on lentiviral and retroviral cores, we exploited the fact that the feline endogenous retrovirus RD114 glycoprotein does not efficiently pseudotype lentiviral cores derived from simian immunodeficiency virus, whereas it is readily incorporated onto MLV particles. Our results indicate that recruitment of glycoproteins by the MLV and lentiviral core proteins occurs in intracellular compartments and not at the cell surface. We found that Env and core protein colocalization in intracytoplasmic vesicles is required for pseudotype formation. By investigating MLV/RD114 Env chimeras, we show that signals in the cytoplasmic tail of either glycoprotein differentially influenced their intracellular localization; that of MLV allows endosomal localization and hence recruitment by both lentiviral and MLV cores. Furthermore, we found that upon membrane binding, MLV core proteins could relocalize Env glycoproteins in late endosomes and allow their incorporation on viral particles. Thus, intracellular colocalization, as well as interactions between Env and core proteins, may influence the recruitment of the glycoprotein onto viral particles and generate infectious pseudotyped viruses.
The evolutionary arms race between mammals and retroviruses has long been recognized as one of the oldest host–parasite interactions. Rapid evolution rates in exogenous retroviruses have often made accurate viral age estimations highly problematic. Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), however, integrate into the germline of their hosts, and are subjected to their evolutionary rates. This study describes, for the first time, a retroviral orthologue predating the divergence of placental mammals, giving it a minimum age of 104–110 Myr. Simultaneously, other orthologous selfish genetic elements (SGEs), inserted into the ERV sequence, provide evidence for the oldest individual mammalian-wide interspersed repeat and medium-reiteration frequency interspersed repeat mammalian repeats, with the same minimum age. The combined use of shared SGEs and reconstruction of viral orthologies defines new limits and increases maximum ‘lookback’ times, with subsequent implications for the field of paleovirology.
retrovirus evolution; mammalian evolution; selfish genetic elements; mammalian-wide interspersed repeat; genomics; paleovirology
Endogenous retroviral elements (EREs), a family of transposable elements, constitute a substantial fraction of mammalian genomes. It is expected that profiles of the ERE sequences and their genomic locations are unique for each individual. Comprehensive characterization of the EREs’ genomic locations and their biological properties is essential for understanding their roles in the pathophysiology of the host. In this study, we identified and mapped putative EREs (a total of 111 endogenous retroviruses [ERVs] and 488 solo long terminal repeats [sLTRs]) within the C57BL/6J mouse genome. The biological properties of individual ERE isolates (both ERVs and sLTRs) were then characterized in the following aspects: transcription potential, tropism trait, coding potential, recombination event, integration age, and primer binding site for replication. In addition, a suite of database management system programs was developed to organize and update the data acquired from current and future studies and to make the data accessible via internet.
mouse genome; database; murine lukemia virus; endogenous retrovirus; retroelement; solo long terminal repeat
An amino-terminal portion of the Friend murine leukemia virus (MLV) envelope surface protein [SU, residues 1 to 236 [SU:(1-236)]] and its receptor, MCAT-1, were each purified from insect cells after expression by using recombinant baculoviruses. Friend SU:(1-236) bound specifically to Xenopus oocytes that expressed MCAT-1 with an affinity (Kd, 55 nM) similar to that of viral SU binding to permissive cells. Direct binding of Friend SU:(1-236) to purified MCAT-1 was observed in detergent and after reconstitution into liposomes. Analysis of binding demonstrated that MCAT-1 and Friend SU:(1-236) interact with a stoichiometry of near 1:1. These findings demonstrate that the amino-terminal domain from the SU of ecotropic murine retroviruses contains an MCAT-1 binding domain.
The Asian wild mouse species Mus caroli harbors an endogenous retrovirus (McERV) that is closely related to but distinct from the endogenous retrovirus family defined by the Mus dunni endogenous virus and the Mus musculus endogenous retrovirus. McERV could infect some cell types from humans, dogs, and rats, but not all, and did not infect any mouse cell line tested. Because of its interesting host range and proposed ancestral relationship to primate retroviruses and because none of the entry receptors for this family of retroviruses had been identified, we began a search for the McERV receptor. We determined the chromosomal location of the receptor gene in the human genome by phenotypic screening of the G3 human-hamster radiation hybrid cell line panel and confirmed the localization by assaying for receptor activity conferred by bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones spanning the region. We next localized the gene more precisely in one positive BAC by assaying for receptor activity following BAC digestion with several restriction enzymes that cleaved different sets of genes, and we confirmed that the final candidate gene, plasmolipin (PLLP; TM4SF11), is the novel receptor by showing that the expression of the human PLLP cDNA renders hamster and mouse cells susceptible to McERV infection. PLLP functions as a voltage-dependent potassium ion channel and is expressed primarily in kidney and brain, helping to explain the limited range of cell types that McERV can infect. Interestingly, mouse PLLP also functioned well as a receptor for McERV but was simply not expressed in the mouse cell types that we originally tested.
Ecotropic murine leukemia virus (MuLV) infection is initiated by the interaction between the surface glycoprotein (SU) of the virus and its cell-surface receptor mCAT-1. We investigated the SU-receptor interaction by using a naturally occurring soluble SU which was encoded by the envelope (env) gene of a defective endogenous MuLV, Fv-4r. Binding of the SU to mCAT-1-positive mouse cells was completed by 1 min at 37°C. The SU could not bind to mouse cells that were persistently infected by ecotropic MuLVs (but not amphotropic or dualtropic MuLVs) or transfected with wild-type ecotropic env genes or a mutant env gene which can express only precursor Env protein that is restricted to retention in the endoplasmic reticulum. These cells were also resistant to superinfection by ecotropic MuLVs. Thus, superinfection resistance correlated with the lack of SU-binding capacity. After binding to the cells, the SU appeared to undergo some conformational changes within 1 min in a temperature-dependent manner. This was suggested by the different properties of two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) reactive with the same C-terminal half of the Fv-4r SU domain, including a proline-rich motif which was shown to be important for conformation of the SU and interaction between the SU and the transmembrane protein. One MAb reacting with the soluble SU bound to cells was dissociated by a temperature shift from 4 to 37°C. Such dissociation was not observed in cells synthesizing the SU or when another MAb was used, indicating that the dissociation was not due to a temperature-dependent release of the MAb but to possible conformational changes in the SU.
We have previously identified in the human genome a family of 200 endogenous retrovirus-like elements, the HERV-L elements, disclosing similarities with the foamy retroviruses and which might be the evolutionary intermediate between classical intracellular retrotransposons and infectious retroviruses. Southern blot analysis of a large series of mammalian genomic DNAs shows that HERV-L-related elements—so-called ERV-L—are present among all placental mammals, suggesting that ERV-L elements were already present at least 70 million years ago. Most species exhibit a low copy number of ERV-L elements (from 10 to 30), while simians (not prosimians) and mice (not rats) have been subjected to bursts resulting in increases in the number of copies up to 200. The burst of copy number in primates can be dated to shortly after the prosimian and simian branchpoint, 45 to 65 million years ago, whereas murine species have been subjected to two much more recent bursts (less than 10 million years ago), occurring after the Mus/Rattus split. We have amplified and sequenced 360-bp ERV-L internal fragments of the highly conserved pol gene from a series of 22 mammalian species. These sequences exhibit high percentages of identity (57 to 99%) with the murine fully coding MuERV-L element. Phylogenetic analyses allowed the establishment of a plausible evolutionary scheme for ERV-L elements, which accounts for the high level of sequence conservation and the widespread dispersion among mammals.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and ERV-like sequences comprise 8% of the human genome. A hitherto unknown proportion of ERV loci are transcribed and thus contribute to the human transcriptome. A small proportion of these loci encode functional proteins. As the role of ERVs in normal and diseased biological processes is not yet established, transcribed ERV loci are of particular interest. As more transcribed ERV loci are likely to be identified in the near future, the development of a systematic nomenclature is important to ensure that all information on each locus can be easily retrieved.
Here we present a revised nomenclature of transcribed human endogenous retroviral loci that sorts loci into groups based on Repbase classifications. Each symbol is of the format ERV + group symbol + unique number. Group symbols are based on a mixture of Repbase designations and well-supported symbols used in the literature. The presented guidelines will allow newly identified loci to be easily incorporated into the scheme.
The naming system will be employed by the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee for naming transcribed human ERV loci. We hope that the system will contribute to clarifying a certain aspect of a sometimes confusing nomenclature for human endogenous retroviruses. The presented system may also be employed for naming transcribed loci of human non-ERV repeat loci.
When endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) or other transposable elements (TEs) insert into an intron, the consequence on gene transcription can range from negligible to a complete ablation of normal transcripts. With the advance of sequencing technology, more and more insertionally polymorphic or private TE insertions are being identified in humans and mice, of which some could have a significant impact on host gene expression. Nevertheless, an efficient and low cost approach to prioritize their potential effect on gene transcription has been lacking. By building a computational model based on artificial neural networks (ANN), we demonstrate the feasibility of using machine-learning approaches to predict the likelihood that intronic ERV insertions will have major effects on gene transcription, focusing on the two ERV families, namely Intracisternal A-type Particle (IAP) and Early Transposon (ETn)/MusD elements, which are responsible for the majority of ERV-induced mutations in mice. We trained the ANN model using properties associated with these ERVs known to cause germ-line mutations (positive cases) and properties associated with likely neutral ERVs of the same families (negative cases), and derived a set of prediction plots that can visualize the likelihood of affecting gene transcription by ERV insertions. Our results show a highly reliable prediction power of our model, and offer a potential approach to computationally screen for other types of TE insertions that may affect gene transcription or even cause disease.
We have made retrovirus particles displaying a functional antibody fragment. We fused the gene encoding an antibody fragment directed against a hapten with that encoding the viral envelope protein (Pr80env) of the ecotropic Moloney murine leukemia virus. The fusion gene was co-expressed in ecotropic retroviral packaging cells with a retroviral plasmid carrying the neomycin phosphotransferase gene (neo), and retroviral particles with specific hapten binding activities were recovered. Furthermore the hapten-binding particles were able to transfer the neo gene and the antibody-envelope fusion gene to mouse fibroblasts. In principle, the display of antibody fragments on the surface of recombinant retroviral particles could be used to target virus to cells for gene delivery, or to retain the virus in target tissues.
Approximately 10% of the mouse genome is constituted by endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), and a number of mouse ERVs remain active. Many copies of endogenous murine leukemia viruses (MuLVs) are detected in the genomes of inbred mouse strains. Some of these MuLVs are transcriptionally active or produce infectious virus particles. Previously, we identified partial env sequences of new xenotropic MuLVs (X-MuLVs) from a senescence-accelerated mouse (SAM) strain. In the present study, we investigated and characterized the complete sequences of the X-MuLVs. The complete genomes and open reading frames (ORFs) of two X-MuLVs, designated xmlv15 and xmlv18 (accession nos. HQ154630 and HQ154631, respectively), were molecularly cloned from the genome of the SAM mice. We confirmed that the xmlv15 and xmlv18 sequences are distinct from all known MuLV genomes and are most similar to DG-75 MuLV. Moreover, we found that common strains of laboratory mice carry our newly identified xmlvs. Additionally, the expression levels of xmlv15-related sequences were much higher in C57BL and ICR mice than in the SAM strains without any stimulators. Our findings suggest that a specific group of endogenous MuLVs is constitutively expressed in the brain and that they may participate in normal functions and/or pathogenic conditions.
Murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) are among the simplest retroviruses. Prototypical gammaretroviruses encode only the three polyproteins that will be used in the assembly of progeny virus particles. These are the Gag polyprotein, which is the structural protein of a retrovirus particle, the Pol protein, comprising the three retroviral enzymes—protease, which catalyzes the maturation of the particle, reverse transcriptase, which copies the viral RNA into DNA upon infection of a new host cell, and integrase, which inserts the DNA into the chromosomal DNA of the host cell, and the Env polyprotein, which induces the fusion of the viral membrane with that of the new host cell, initiating infection. In general, a productive MLV infection has no obvious effect upon host cells. Although gammaretroviral structure and replication follow the same broad outlines as those of other retroviruses, we point out a number of significant differences between different retroviral genera.