Env-less endogenous retroviruses are genomic superspreaders.
ABSTRACT: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) differ from typical retroviruses in being inherited through the host germline and therefore are a unique combination of pathogen and selfish genetic element. Some ERV lineages proliferate by infecting germline cells, as do typical retroviruses, whereas others lack the env gene required for virions to enter cells and thus behave like retrotransposons. We wished to know what factors determined the relative abundance of different ERV lineages, so we analyzed ERV loci recovered from 38 mammal genomes by in silico screening. By modeling the relationship between proliferation and replication mechanism in detail within one group, the intracisternal A-type particles (IAPs), and performing simple correlations across all ERV lineages, we show that when ERVs lose the env gene their proliferation within that genome is boosted by a factor of ?30. We also show that ERV abundance follows the Pareto principle or 20/80 rule, with ?20% of lineages containing 80% of the loci. This rule is observed in many biological systems, including infectious disease epidemics, where commonly ?20% of the infected individuals are responsible for 80% of onward infection. We thus borrow simple epidemiological and ecological models and show that retrotransposition and loss of env is the trait that leads endogenous retroviruses to becoming genomic superspreaders that take over a significant proportion of their host's genome.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) of domestic cats (ERV-DCs) are one of the youngest feline ERV groups in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus); some members are replication competent (ERV-DC10, ERV-DC18, and ERV-DC14), produce the antiretroviral soluble factor Refrex-1 (ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16), or can generate recombinant feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Here, we investigated ERV-DC in European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) and detected four loci: ERV-DC6, ERV-DC7, ERV-DC14, and ERV-DC16. ERV-DC14 was detected at a high frequency in European wildcats; however, it was replication defective due to a single G ? A nucleotide substitution, resulting in an E148K substitution in the ERV-DC14 envelope (Env). This mutation results in a cleavage-defective Env that is not incorporated into viral particles. Introduction of the same mutation into feline and murine infectious gammaretroviruses resulted in a similar Env dysfunction. Interestingly, the same mutation was found in an FeLV isolate from naturally occurring thymic lymphoma and a mouse ERV, suggesting a common mechanism of virus inactivation. Refrex-1 was present in European wildcats; however, ERV-DC16, but not ERV-DC7, was unfixed in European wildcats. Thus, Refrex-1 has had an antiviral role throughout the evolution of the genus Felis, predating cat exposure to feline retroviruses. ERV-DC sequence diversity was present across wild and domestic cats but was locus dependent. In conclusion, ERVs have evolved species-specific phenotypes through the interplay between ERVs and their hosts. The mechanism of viral inactivation may be similar irrespective of the evolutionary history of retroviruses. The tracking of ancestral retroviruses can shed light on their roles in pathogenesis and host-virus evolution.IMPORTANCE Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) were domesticated from wildcats approximately 9,000?years ago via close interaction between humans and cats. During cat evolution, various exogenous retroviruses infected different cat lineages and generated numerous ERVs in the host genome, some of which remain replication competent. Here, we detected several ERV-DC loci in Felis silvestris silvestris Notably, a species-specific single nucleotide polymorphism in the ERV-DC14 env gene, which results in a replication-defective product, is highly prevalent in European wildcats, unlike the replication-competent ERV-DC14 that is commonly present in domestic cats. The presence of the same lethal mutation in the env genes of both FeLV and murine ERV provides a common mechanism shared by endogenous and exogenous retroviruses by which ERVs can be inactivated after endogenization. The antiviral role of Refrex-1 predates cat exposure to feline retroviruses. The existence of two ERV-DC14 phenotypes provides a unique model for understanding both ERV fate and cat domestication.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancestral retroviral infections of germ cells. Retroviral endogenization is an adaptation process for the host genome, and ERVs are gradually attenuated or inactivated by mutation. However, some ERVs that have been "domesticated" by their hosts eventually gain physiological functions, such as placentation or viral resistance. We previously reported the discovery of Refrex-1, a soluble antiretroviral factor in domestic cats that specifically inhibits infection by feline leukemia virus subgroup D (FeLV-D), a chimeric virus of FeLV, and a feline ERV, ERV-DC. Refrex-1 is a truncated envelope protein (Env) encoded by both ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 proviral loci. Here, we reconstituted ancestral and functional Env from ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 envelope genes (env) by inducing reverse mutations. Unexpectedly, ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 full-length Env (ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl), reconstructed by removing stop codons, did not produce infectious viral particles. ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl were highly expressed in cells but were not cleaved into surface subunits (SU) and transmembrane subunits, nor were they incorporated into virions. G407R/N427I-A429T and Y431D substitutions within the SU C-terminal domain of ERV-DC7 fl and ERV-DC16 fl, respectively, caused these dysfunctions. The residues glycine 407 and tyrosine 431 are relatively conserved among infectious gammaretroviruses, and their substitution causes the same dysfunctions as the tested retroviruses. Our results reveal that specific mutations within the SU C-terminal domain suppressed Env cleavage and incorporation into virions and indicate that these mutations contributed to the domestication of Refrex-1 through multistep events that occurred in the postintegration period.Domestic cats are colonized with various exogenous retroviruses (exRVs), such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and their genomes contain numerous ERVs, some of which are replication-competent proviruses. The feline hosts, exRVs, and ERVs have complicated genetic interactions and provide an interesting field model for triangular relationships: recombination between FeLV and ERV-DC, which is a feline ERV, generated FeLV-D, a chimeric virus, and FeLV-D is restricted by Refrex-1, an antiretroviral factor corresponding to truncated Env of ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16. Here, we reconstructed ancestral, functional Env from ERV-DC7 and ERV-DC16 env by inducing reverse mutations to elucidate how Refrex-1 was generated from its ancestor. Our results reveal that they were repeatedly inactivated by mutations preventing Env maturation. Our results provide insights into how ERVs were "domesticated" by their hosts and identify the mutations that mediated these evolutions. Notably, experiments that restore inactivated ERVs might uncover previously unrecognized features or properties of retroviruses.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) arise from retroviruses chromosomally integrated in the host germline. ERVs are common in vertebrate genomes and provide a valuable fossil record of past retroviral infections to investigate the biology and evolution of retroviruses over a deep time scale, including cross-species transmission events. Here we took advantage of a catalog of ERVs we recently produced for the bat Myotis lucifugus to seek evidence for infiltration of these retroviruses in other mammalian species (>100) currently represented in the genome sequence database. We provide multiple lines of evidence for the cross-ordinal transmission of a gammaretrovirus endogenized independently in the lineages of vespertilionid bats, felid cats and pangolin ~13-25 million years ago. Following its initial introduction, the ERV amplified extensively in parallel in both bat and cat lineages, generating hundreds of species-specific insertions throughout evolution. However, despite being derived from the same viral species, phylogenetic and selection analyses suggest that the ERV experienced different amplification dynamics in the two mammalian lineages. In the cat lineage, the ERV appears to have expanded primarily by retrotransposition of a single proviral progenitor that lost infectious capacity shortly after endogenization. In the bat lineage, the ERV followed a more complex path of germline invasion characterized by both retrotransposition and multiple infection events. The results also suggest that some of the bat ERVs have maintained infectious capacity for extended period of time and may be still infectious today. This study provides one of the most rigorously documented cases of cross-ordinal transmission of a mammalian retrovirus. It also illustrates how the same retrovirus species has transitioned multiple times from an infectious pathogen to a genomic parasite (i.e. retrotransposon), yet experiencing different invasion dynamics in different mammalian hosts.
Project description:APOBEC3 (A3) genes are members of the AID/APOBEC gene family that are found exclusively in mammals. A3 genes encode antiviral proteins that restrict the replication of retroviruses by inducing G-to-A mutations in their genomes and have undergone extensive amplification and diversification during mammalian evolution. Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are sequences derived from ancient retroviruses that are widespread mammalian genomes. In this study we characterize the A3 repertoire and use the ERV fossil record to explore the long-term history of coevolutionary interaction between A3s and retroviruses. We examine the genomes of 160 mammalian species and identify 1,420 AID/APOBEC-related genes, including representatives of previously uncharacterized lineages. We show that A3 genes have been amplified in mammals and that amplification is positively correlated with the extent of germline colonization by ERVs. Moreover, we demonstrate that the signatures of A3-mediated mutation can be detected in ERVs found throughout mammalian genomes and show that in mammalian species with expanded A3 repertoires, ERVs are significantly enriched for G-to-A mutations. Finally, we show that A3 amplification occurred concurrently with prominent ERV invasions in primates. Our findings establish that conflict with retroviruses is a major driving force for the rapid evolution of mammalian A3 genes.
Project description:Background:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections of mammalian germline cells. A large proportion of ERVs lose their open reading frames (ORFs), while others retain them and become exapted by the host species. However, it remains unclear what proportion of ERVs possess ORFs (ERV-ORFs), become transcribed, and serve as candidates for co-opted genes. Results:We investigated characteristics of 176,401 ERV-ORFs containing retroviral-like protein domains (gag, pro, pol, and env) in 19 mammalian genomes. The fractions of ERVs possessing ORFs were overall small (~?0.15%) although they varied depending on domain types as well as species. The observed divergence of ERV-ORF from their consensus sequences showed bimodal distributions, suggesting that a large proportion of ERV-ORFs either recently, or anciently, inserted themselves into mammalian genomes. Alternatively, very few ERVs lacking ORFs were found to exhibit similar divergence patterns. To identify candidates for ERV-derived genes, we estimated the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous substitution rates (dN/dS) for ERV-ORFs in human and non-human mammalian pairs, and found that approximately 42% of the ERV-ORFs showed dN/dS?<?1. Further, using functional genomics data including transcriptome sequencing, we determined that approximately 9.7% of these selected ERV-ORFs exhibited transcriptional potential. Conclusions:These results suggest that purifying selection operates on a certain portion of ERV-ORFs, some of which may correspond to uncharacterized functional genes hidden within mammalian genomes. Together, our analyses suggest that more ERV-ORFs may be co-opted in a host-species specific manner than we currently know, which are likely to have contributed to mammalian evolution and diversification.
Project description:The evolution of mammalian genomes has been shaped by interactions with endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). In this study, we investigated the distribution and diversity of ERVs in the mammalian order Perissodactyla, with a view to understanding their impact on the evolution of modern equids (family Equidae). We characterize the major ERV lineages in the horse genome in terms of their genomic distribution, ancestral genome organization, and time of activity. Our results show that subsequent to their ancestral divergence from rhinoceroses and tapirs, equids acquired four novel ERV lineages. We show that two of these ERV lineages proliferated extensively in the lineage leading to modern horses, and one contains loci that are actively transcribed in specific tissues. In addition, we show that the white rhinoceros has resisted germ line colonization by retroviruses for more than 54 million years-longer than any other extant mammalian species. The map of equine ERVs that we provide here will be of great utility to future studies aiming to investigate the potential functional roles of equine ERVs and their impact on equine evolution.IMPORTANCE ERVs in the host genome are highly informative about the long-term interactions of retroviruses and hosts. They are also interesting because they have influenced the evolution of mammalian genomes in various ways. In this study, we derive a calibrated timeline describing the process through which ERV diversity has been generated in the equine germ line. We determined the distribution and diversity of perissodactyl ERV lineages and inferred their retrotranspositional activity during evolution, thereby gaining insight into the long-term coevolutionary history of retroviruses and mammals. Our study provides a platform for future investigations to identify equine ERV loci involved in physiological processes and/or pathological conditions.
Project description:Although extensive research has demonstrated host-retrovirus microevolutionary dynamics, it has been difficult to gain a deeper understanding of the macroevolutionary patterns of host-retrovirus interactions. Here we use recent technological advances to infer broad patterns in retroviral diversity, evolution, and host-virus relationships by using a large-scale phylogenomic approach using endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Retroviruses insert a proviral DNA copy into the host cell genome to produce new viruses. ERVs are provirus insertions in germline cells that are inherited down the host lineage and consequently present a record of past host-viral associations. By mining ERVs from 65 host genomes sampled across vertebrate diversity, we uncover a great diversity of ERVs, indicating that retroviral sequences are much more prevalent and widespread across vertebrates than previously appreciated. The majority of ERV clades that we recover do not contain known retroviruses, implying either that retroviral lineages are highly transient over evolutionary time or that a considerable number of retroviruses remain to be identified. By characterizing the distribution of ERVs, we show that no major vertebrate lineage has escaped retroviral activity and that retroviruses are extreme host generalists, having an unprecedented ability for rampant host switching among distantly related vertebrates. In addition, we examine whether the distribution of ERVs can be explained by host factors predicted to influence viral transmission and find that internal fertilization has a pronounced effect on retroviral colonization of host genomes. By capturing the mode and pattern of retroviral evolution and contrasting ERV diversity with known retroviral diversity, our study provides a cohesive framework to understand host-virus coevolution better.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) comprise a significant percentage of the mammalian genome, and it is poorly understood whether they will remain as inactive genomes or emerge as infectious retroviruses. Although several types of ERVs are present in domestic cats, infectious ERVs have not been demonstrated. Here, we report a previously uncharacterized class of endogenous gammaretroviruses, termed ERV-DCs, that is present and hereditary in the domestic cat genome. We have characterized a subset of ERV-DC proviral clones, which are numbered according to their genomic insertions. One of these, ERV-DC10, located in the q12-q21 region on chromosome C1, is an infectious gammaretrovirus capable of infecting a broad range of cells, including human. Our studies indicate that ERV-DC10 entered the genome of domestic cats in the recent past and appeared to translocate to or reintegrate at a distinct locus as infectious ERV-DC18. Insertional polymorphism analysis revealed that 92 of 244 domestic cats had ERV-DC10 on a homozygous or heterozygous locus. ERV-DC-like sequences were found in primate and rodent genomes, suggesting that these ERVs, and recombinant viruses such as RD-114 and BaEV, originated from an ancestor of ERV-DC. We also found that a novel recombinant virus, feline leukemia virus subgroup D (FeLV-D), was generated by ERV-DC env transduction into feline leukemia virus in domestic cats. Our results indicate that ERV-DCs behave as donors and/or acceptors in the generation of infectious, recombinant viruses. The presence of such infectious endogenous retroviruses, which could be harmful or beneficial to the host, may affect veterinary medicine and public health.
Project description:Although recent advances in sequencing and computational analyses have facilitated use of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) for deciphering coevolution among retroviruses and their hosts, sampling effects from different host populations present major challenges. Here we utilize available whole-genome data from wild and domesticated European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus sp.) populations, sequenced as DNA pools by paired-end Illumina technology, for identifying segregating reference as well as nonreference ERV loci, to reveal their variation along the host phylogeny and domestication history. To produce new viruses, retroviruses must insert a proviral DNA copy into the host nuclear DNA. Occasional proviral insertions into the host germline have been passed down through generations as inherited ERVs during millions of years. These ERVs represent retroviruses that were active at the time of infection and thus present a remarkable record of historical virus-host associations. To examine segregating ERVs in host populations, we apply a reference library search strategy for anchoring ERV-associated short-sequence read pairs from pooled whole-genome sequences to reference genome assembly positions. We show that most ERVs segregate along host phylogeny but also uncover radiation of some ERVs, identified as segregating loci among wild and domestic rabbits. The study targets pertinent issues regarding genome sampling when examining virus-host evolution from the genomic ERV record and offers improved scope regarding common strategies for single-nucleotide variant analyses in host population comparative genomics.
Project description:Naturally-occurring lymphomagenesis is induced by mouse leukemia viruses (MLVs) carried as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Replicating the ecotropic MLVs recombines with polytropic (P-ERVs) and xenotropic ERVs (X-ERVs) to generate pathogenic viruses with an altered host range. While most recovered nonecotropic recombinants have a polytropic host range, the X-MLVs are also present in the pre-leukemic tissues. We analyzed two such isolates from the AKR mice to identify their ERV progenitors and to look for evidence of recombination. AKR40 resembles the active X-ERV Bxv1, while AKR6 has a Bxv1-like backbone with substitutions that alter the long terminal repeat (LTR) enhancer and the envelope (env). AKR6 has a modified xenotropic host range, and its Env residue changes all lie outside of the domain that governs the receptor choice. The AKR6 segment spanning the two substitutions, but not the entire AKR6 env-LTR, exists as an ERV, termed Xmv67, in AKR, but not in the C57BL/6 mice. This suggests that AKR6 is the product of one, not two, recombination events. Xmv67 originated in the Asian mice. These data indicate that the recombinant X-MLVs that can be generated during lymphomagenesis, describe a novel X-ERV subtype found in the AKR genome, but not in the C57BL/6 reference genome, and identify residues in the envelope C-terminus that may influence the host range.