The endogenous retroviral locus ERVWE1 is a bona fide gene involved in hominoid placental physiology.
ABSTRACT: The definitive demonstration of a role for a recently acquired gene is a difficult task, requiring exhaustive genetic investigations and functional analysis. The situation is indeed much more complicated when facing multicopy gene families, because most or portions of the gene are conserved among the hundred copies of the family. This is the case for the ERVWE1 locus of the human endogenous retrovirus W family (HERV-W), which encodes an envelope glycoprotein (syncytin) likely involved in trophoblast differentiation. Here we describe, in 155 individuals, the positional conservation of this locus and the preservation of the envelope ORF. Sequencing of the critical elements of the ERVWE1 provirus showed a striking conservation among the 48 alleles of 24 individuals, including the LTR elements involved in the transcriptional machinery, the splice sites involved in the maturation of subgenomic Env mRNA, and the Env ORF. The functionality and tissue specificity of the 5' LTR were demonstrated, as well as the fusogenic activity of the envelope polymorphic variants. Such functions were also shown to be preserved in the orthologous loci isolated from chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and gibbon. This functional preservation among humans and during evolution strongly argued for the involvement of this recently acquired retroviral envelope glycoprotein in hominoid placental physiology.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The human HERV-W multicopy family includes a unique proviral locus, termed ERVWE1, whose full-length envelope ORF was preserved through evolution by the action of a selective pressure. The encoded Env protein (Syncytin) is involved in hominoid placental physiology. RESULTS: In order to infer the natural history of this domestication process, a comparative genomic analysis of the human 7q21.2 syntenic regions in eutherians was performed. In primates, this region was progressively colonized by LTR-elements, leading to two different evolutionary pathways in Cercopithecidae and Hominidae, a genetic drift versus a domestication, respectively. CONCLUSION: The preservation in Hominoids of a genomic structure consisting in the juxtaposition of a retrotransposon-derived MaLR LTR and the ERVWE1 provirus suggests a functional link between both elements.
Project description:The HERV-W family contains hundreds of loci diversely expressed in several physiological and pathological contexts. A unique locus termed ERVWE1 encodes an envelope glycoprotein (syncytin) involved in hominoid placental physiology. Here we show that syncytin expression is regulated by a bipartite element consisting of a cyclic AMP (cAMP)-inducible long terminal repeat (LTR) retroviral promoter adjacent to a cellular enhancer conferring a high level of expression and placental tropism. Deletion mutant analysis showed that the ERVWE1 5' LTR contains binding sites essential for basal placental activity in the region from positions +1 to +125. The region from positions +125 to +310 represents a cAMP-responsive core HERV-W promoter active in all cell types. Site-directed mutagenesis analysis highlighted the complexity of U3 regulation. ERVWE1 placenta-specific positive (e.g., T240) and negative (e.g., G71) regulatory sites were identified, as were essential sites required for basic activity (e.g., A247). The flanking sequences of the ERVWE1 provirus contain several putative regulatory elements. The upstream HERV-H and HERV-P LTRs were found to be inactive. Conversely, the 436-bp region located between the HERV-P LTR and ERVWE1 was shown to be an upstream regulatory element (URE) which is significantly active in placenta cells. This URE acts as a tissue-specific enhancer. Genetic and functional analyses of hominoid UREs revealed large differences between UREs of members of the Hominidae and the Hylobatidae. These data allowed the identification of a positive regulatory region from positions -436 to -128, a mammalian apparent LTR retrotransposon negative regulatory region from positions -128 to -67, and a trophoblast-specific enhancer (TSE) from positions -67 to -35. Putative AP-2, Sp-1, and GCMa binding sites are essential constituents of the 33-bp TSE.
Project description:Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are globally silent in somatic cells. However, some HERVs display high transcription in physiological conditions. In particular, ERVWE1, ERVFRDE1 and ERV3, three proviruses of distinct families, are highly transcribed in placenta and produce envelope proteins associated with placenta development. As silencing of repeated elements is thought to occur mainly by DNA methylation, we compared the methylation of ERVWE1 and related HERVs to appreciate whether HERV methylation relies upon the family, the integration site, the tissue, the long terminal repeat (LTR) function or the associated gene function. CpG methylation of HERV-W LTRs in placenta-associated tissues was heterogeneous but a joint epigenetic control was found for ERVWE1 5'LTR and its juxtaposed enhancer, a mammalian apparent LTR retrotransposon. Additionally, ERVWE1, ERVFRDE1 and ERV3 5'LTRs were all essentially hypomethylated in cytotrophoblasts during pregnancy, but showed distinct and stage-dependent methylation profiles. In non-cytotrophoblastic cells, they also exhibited different methylation profiles, compatible with their respective transcriptional activities. Comparative analyses of transcriptional activity and LTR methylation in cell lines further sustained a role for methylation in the control of functional LTRs. These results suggest that HERV methylation might not be family related but copy-specific, and related to the LTR function and the tissue. In particular, ERVWE1 and ERV3 could be developmentally epigenetically regulated HERVs.
Project description:HERV-W is a multi-locus family of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) that has been found to play an important role in human physiology and pathology. Two particular members of HERV-W family are of special interests: ERVWE1 (coding syncytin-1, which is a glycoprotein essential in the formation of the placenta) and MSRV (multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus that is thought to play a significant role in human pathology as a result of its increased expression in the brain tissue and blood cells derived from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS)). Both ERVWE1 and MSRV mRNA share high level of similarity and hence a method that allows to exclusively quantify the MSRV expression in clinical samples would be desirable. We developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) technique for the detection and quantification of the multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus. The assay utilises fluorescently labelled oligonucleotide probe, which is complementary to the conservative fragment of MSRV env gene and a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probe, fully complementary to the ERVWE1 sequence fragment that efficiently blocks the polymerase action on ERVWE1 templates. The PNA molecule, if used parallel with hydrolysis probe in QPCR analysis, greatly facilitates the detection efficiency of MSRV even if ERVWE1 is present abundantly in respect to MSRV in the analysed sample. We achieved a wide and measurable range from 1 × 10 e(2) to 1 × 10 e(8) copies/reaction; the linearity of the technique was maintained even at the low MSRV level of 1% in respect to ERVWE1. Using our newly developed method we confirmed that the expression of MSRV takes place in normal human astrocytes and in human umbilical vein endothelial cells in vitro. We also found that the stimulation of human monocytes did not influence the specific expression of MSRV but it caused changes in mRNA level of distinct HERV-W templates.
Project description:Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) and enzootic nasal tumor virus (ENTV) are small-ruminant betaretroviruses that share high nucleotide and amino acid identity, utilize the same cellular receptor, hyaluronoglucosaminidase 2 (Hyal2) for entry, and transform tissues with their envelope (Env) glycoprotein; yet, they target discrete regions of the respiratory tract-the lung and nose, respectively. This distinct tissue selectivity makes them ideal tools with which to study the pathogenesis of betaretroviruses. To uncover the genetic determinants of tropism, we constructed JSRV-ENTV chimeric viruses and produced lentivectors pseudotyped with the Env proteins from JSRV (Jenv) and ENTV (Eenv). Through the transduction and infection of lung and nasal turbinate tissue slices, we observed that Hyal2 expression levels strongly influence ENTV entry, but that the long terminal repeat (LTR) promoters of these viruses are likely responsible for tissue-specificity. Furthermore, we show evidence of ENTV Env expression in chondrocytes within ENTV-infected nasal turbinate tissue, where Hyal2 is highly expressed. Our work suggests that the unique tissue tropism of JSRV and ENTV stems from the combined effort of the envelope glycoprotein-receptor interactions and the LTR and provides new insight into the pathogenesis of ENTV.
Project description:Syncytin is a fusogenic protein involved in the formation of the placental syncytiotrophoblast layer. This protein is encoded by the envelope gene of the ERVWE1 proviral locus belonging to the human endogenous retrovirus W (HERV-W) family. The HERV-W infectious ancestor entered the primate lineage 25 to 40 million years ago. Although the syncytin fusion property has been clearly demonstrated, little is known about this cellular protein maturation process with respect to classical infectious retrovirus envelope proteins. Here we show that the cellular syncytin protein is synthesized as a glycosylated gPr73 precursor cleaved into two mature proteins, a gp50 surface subunit (SU) and a gp24 transmembrane subunit (TM). These SU and TM subunits are found associated as homotrimers. The intracytoplasmic tail is critical to the fusogenic phenotype, although its cleavage requirements seem to have diverged from those of classical retroviral maturation.
Project description:Syncytin-1 and -2, human fusogenic glycoproteins encoded by the env genes of the endogenous retroviral loci ERVWE1 and ERVFRDE1, respectively, contribute to the differentiation of multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast in chorionic villi. In non-trophoblastic cells, however, the expression of syncytins has to be suppressed to avoid potential pathogenic effects. We studied the epigenetic suppression of ERVWE1 and ERVFRDE1 5'-long terminal repeats by DNA methylation and chromatin modifications. Immunoprecipitation of the provirus-associated chromatin revealed the H3K9 trimethylation at transcriptionally inactivated syncytins in HeLa cells. qRT-PCR analysis of non-spliced ERVWE1 and ERVFRDE1 mRNAs and respective env mRNAs detected efficient splicing of endogenously expressed RNAs in trophoblastic but not in non-placental cells. Pointing to the pathogenic potential of aberrantly expressed syncytin-1, we have found deregulation of transcription and splicing of the ERVWE1 in biopsies of testicular seminomas. Finally, ectopic expression experiments suggest the importance of proper chromatin context for the ERVWE1 splicing. Our results thus demonstrate that cell-specific retroviral splicing represents an additional epigenetic level controling the expression of endogenous retroviruses.
Project description:Avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J) infection can cause tumors and immunosuppression. Endogenous viruses integrate into host genomes and can recombine with exogenous avian leukosis virus (ALV). In this study, we analyzed the interaction of endogenous retrovirus 21 (ev21) with the ALV-J in late-feathering Chinese yellow chicken. Two ALV-J strains M180 and K243 were isolated from late-feathering and fast-feathering Chinese yellow chicken flocks, respectively. The env gene of the two strains showed 94.2-94.8% nucleotide identity with reference ALV-J strains. Compared with the env gene and the LTR of ev21 and M180, the nucleotide identity of LTR was 69.7% and env gene was 58.4%, respectively, especially the amino acid identity of env gene as low as 14.2%. Phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequence of the env gene and the 3'LTR showed that M180 was closely related to ALV-J, and was located in a distinct group with ev21 in the phylogenetic tree. Using co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP), we next demonstrate that the envelope protein of ev21 does not interact with the M180 envelope protein. We further show that the envelope protein of ev21 cannot activate ALV-J LTR promoter activity using luciferase-reporter assays. qPCR and western blot analysis revealed that envelope protein of endogenous ev21 can facilitate the expression of PKR at 6h post ALV-J infection (hpi) and facilitate the expression of ISG12 and CH25H at 24 hpi. However, the expression of the env gene of M180 strain was not significantly at 6 and 24 hpi. We conclude that there is no evidence of recombination between endogenous retrovirus ev21 and ALV-J strain M180 in late-feathering Chinese yellow chicken, and envelope protein of ev21 can affect the expression of host ISGs, but appears not to influence the replication of ALV-J strain M180. This is the first report of interaction among the endogenous retrovirus ev21, ALV-J and the late-feathering chicken.
Project description:The soybean genome hosts a family of several hundred, relatively homogeneous copies of a large, copia/Ty1-like retroelement designated SIRE-1. A copy of this element has been recovered from a Glycine max genomic library. DNA sequence analysis of two SIRE-1 subclones revealed that SIRE-1 contains a long, uninterrupted, ORF between the 3' end of the pol ORF and the 3' long terminal repeat (LTR), a region that harbors the env gene in retroviral genomes. Conceptual translation of this second ORF produces a 70-kDa protein. Computer analyses of the amino acid sequence predicted patterns of transmembrane domains, alpha-helices, and coiled coils strikingly similar to those found in mammalian retroviral envelope proteins. In addition, a 65-residue, proline-rich domain is characterized by a strong amino acid compositional bias virtually identical to that of the 60-amino acid, proline-rich neutralization domain of the feline leukemia virus surface protein. The assignment of SIRE-1 to the copia/Ty1 family was confirmed by comparison of the conceptual translation of its reverse transcriptase-like domain with those of other retroelements. This finding suggests the presence of a proretrovirus in a plant genome and is the strongest evidence to date for the existence of a retrovirus-like genome closely related to copia/Ty1 retrotransposons.
Project description:Binding to the receptor CD4 triggers entry-related conformational changes in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer, (gp120/gp41)3 Soluble versions of HIV-1 Env trimers (sgp140 SOSIP.664) stabilized by a gp120-gp41 disulfide bond and a change (I559P) in gp41 have been structurally characterized. Here, we use cross-linking/mass spectrometry to evaluate the conformations of functional membrane Env and sgp140 SOSIP.664. Differences were detected in the gp120 trimer association domain and C terminus and in the gp41 heptad repeat 1 (HR1) region. Whereas the membrane Env trimer exposes the gp41 HR1 coiled coil only after CD4 binding, the sgp140 SOSIP.664 HR1 coiled coil was accessible to the gp41 HR2 peptide even in the absence of CD4. Our results delineate differences in both gp120 and gp41 subunits between functional membrane Env and the sgp140 SOSIP.664 trimer and provide distance constraints that can assist validation of candidate structural models of the native HIV-1 Env trimer.IMPORTANCE HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein spikes mediate the entry of the virus into host cells and are a major target for vaccine-induced antibodies. Soluble forms of the envelope glycoproteins that are stable and easily produced have been characterized extensively and are being considered as vaccines. Here, we present evidence that these stabilized soluble envelope glycoproteins differ in multiple respects from the natural HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. By pinpointing these differences, our results can guide the improvement of envelope glycoprotein preparations to achieve greater similarity to the viral envelope glycoprotein spike, potentially increasing their effectiveness as a vaccine.