Strong purifying selection in endogenous retroviruses in the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in the Northern Territory of Australia.
ABSTRACT: UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of exogenous retroviruses that have integrated into the nuclear DNA of a germ-line cell. Here we present the results of a survey into the ERV complement of Crocodylus porosus, the saltwater crocodile, representing 45 individuals from 17 sampling locations in the Northern Territory of Australia. These retroelements were compared with published ERVs from other species of Crocodylia (Crocodilians; alligators, caimans, gharials and crocodiles) as well as representatives from other vertebrates. This study represents one of the first in-depth studies of ERVs within a single reptilian species shedding light on the diversity of ERVs and proliferation mechanisms in crocodilians. RESULTS: Analyses of the retroviral pro-pol gene region have corroborated the presence of two major clades of ERVs in C. porosus and revealed 18 potentially functional fragments out of the 227 recovered that encode intact pro-pol ORFs. Interestingly, we have identified some patterns of diversification among those ERVs as well as a novel sequence that suggests the presence of an additional retroviral genus in C. porosus. In addition, considerable diversity but low genetic divergence within one of the C. porosus ERV lineages was identified. CONCLUSIONS: We propose that the ERV complement of C. porosus has come about through a combination of recent infections and replication of ancestral ERVs. Strong purifying selection acting on these clades suggests that this activity is recent or still occurring in the genome of this species. The discovery of potentially functional elements is an interesting development that warrants further investigation.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) represent past retroviral infections and accordingly can provide an ideal framework to infer virus-host interaction over their evolutionary history. In this study, we target high quality Pol sequences from 7,994 Class I and 8,119 Class II ERVs from 69 mammalian genomes and surprisingly find that retroviruses harbored by bats and rodents combined occupy the major phylogenetic diversity of both classes. By analyzing transmission patterns of 30 well-defined ERV clades, we corroborate the previously published observation that rodents are more competent as originators of mammalian retroviruses and reveal that bats are more capable of receiving retroviruses from non-bat mammalian origins. The powerful retroviral hosting ability of bats is further supported by a detailed analysis revealing that the novel bat gammaretrovirus, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum retrovirus, likely originated from tree shrews. Taken together, this study advances our understanding of host-shaped mammalian retroviral evolution in general.
Project description:Knowledge of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) in crocodilians (Crocodylia) is limited, and their distribution among extant species is unclear. Here we analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of these retroelements in 20 species of crocodilians by studying the pro-pol gene. The results showed that crocodilian ERVs (CERVs) cluster into two major clades (CERV 1 and CERV 2). CERV 1 clustered as a sister group of the genus Gammaretrovirus, while CERV 2 clustered distantly with respect to all known ERVs. Interestingly, CERV 1 was found only in crocodiles (Crocodylidae). The data generated here could assist future studies aimed at identifying orthologous and paralogous ERVs among crocodilians.
Project description:Crocodilians are thought to be hosts to a diverse and divergent complement of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) but a comprehensive investigation is yet to be performed. The recent sequencing of three crocodilian genomes provides an opportunity for a more detailed and accurate representation of the ERV diversity that is present in these species. Here we investigate the diversity, distribution and evolution of ERVs from the genomes of three key crocodilian species, and outline the key processes driving crocodilian ERV proliferation and evolution.ERVs and ERV related sequences make up less than 2% of crocodilian genomes. We recovered and described 45 ERV groups within the three crocodilian genomes, many of which are species specific. We have also revealed a new class of ERV, ERV4, which appears to be common to crocodilians and turtles, and currently has no characterised exogenous counterpart. For the first time, we formally describe the characteristics of this ERV class and its classification relative to other recognised ERV and retroviral classes. This class shares some sequence similarity and sequence characteristics with ERV3, although it is phylogenetically distinct from the other ERV classes. We have also identified two instances of gene capture by crocodilian ERVs, one of which, the capture of a host KIT-ligand mRNA has occurred without the loss of an ERV domain.This study indicates that crocodilian ERVs comprise a wide variety of lineages, many of which appear to reflect ancient infections. In particular, ERV4 appears to have a limited host range, with current data suggesting that it is confined to crocodilians and some lineages of turtles. Also of interest are two ERV groups that demonstrate evidence of host gene capture. This study provides a framework to facilitate further studies into non-mammalian vertebrates and highlights the need for further studies into such species.
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) are genetic elements with a retroviral origin that are integrated into vertebrate genomes. In felids (Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae), ERVs have been described mostly in the domestic cat, and only rarely in wild species. To gain insight into the origins and evolutionary dynamics of endogenous retroviruses in felids, we have identified and characterized partial pro/pol ERV sequences from eight Neotropical wild cat species, belonging to three distinct lineages of Felidae. We also compared them with publicly available genomic sequences of Felis catus and Panthera tigris, as well as with representatives of other vertebrate groups, and performed phylogenetic and molecular dating analyses to investigate the pattern and timing of diversification of these retroviral elements.We identified a high diversity of ERVs in the sampled felids, with a predominance of Gammaretrovirus-related sequences, including class I ERVs. Our data indicate that the identified ERVs arose from at least eleven horizontal interordinal transmissions from other mammals. Furthermore, we estimated that the majority of the Gamma-like integrations took place during the diversification of modern felids. Finally, our phylogenetic analyses indicate the presence of a genetically divergent group of sequences whose position in our phylogenetic tree was difficult to establish confidently relative to known retroviruses, and another lineage identified as ERVs belonging to class II.Retroviruses have circulated in felids along with their evolution. The majority of the deep clades of ERVs exist since the primary divergence of felids' base and cluster with retroviruses of divergent mammalian lineages, suggesting horizontal interordinal transmission. Our findings highlight the importance of additional studies on the role of ERVs in the genome landscaping of other carnivore species.
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:BACKGROUND: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are genomic elements of retroviral origin that are present in the genomes of almost all vertebrates. In cattle, more than 13,000 elements related to ERVs have been detected, and based on the pol gene, 24 families or groups of bovine ERVs have been described. However, information about ERVs in other bovids and the presence of families of related bovine ERVs in different species of the Bovidae family is scarce. RESULTS: The 24 families of bovine ERVs previously detected in cattle (Bos taurus) were also detected in zebus (Bos indicus) and yaks (Bos grunniens). In addition, six new families, named BoERV25 to BoERV30, were detected in the three Bos species. Five more ruminant species were screened for related ERVs: 26 families were detected in these species, but four families (BoERV24, BoERV26, BoERV28 and BoERV29) were specific to cattle, zebus, yaks and buffalo. An analysis of the homology of the ERVs of cattle, zebus and yaks revealed that the level of LTR divergence was similar between ERVs from cattle and zebus but was less similar between with ERVs from cattle and yaks. In addition, purifying selection was detected in the genes and retroviral regions of clusters of ERVs of cattle, zebus and yaks. CONCLUSIONS: In this work, the 24 ERV families previously identified in cattle were also found in two other species in the Bos genus. In addition, six new bovine ERV families were detected. Based on LTR divergence, the most recently inserted families are from Class II. The divergence of the LTR, used as an indirect estimate of the ERV insertion time, seemed to be influenced by the differences in genome evolution since the divergence of the species. In addition, purifying selection could be acting on clusters of ERVs from different species.
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:BACKGROUND: Endogenous retroviral sequences (ERVs) are integral parts of most eukaryotic genomes and vastly outnumber exogenous retroviruses (XRVs). ERVs with a relatively complete structure were retrieved from the genetic archives of humans and chickens, diametrically opposite representatives of vertebrate retroviruses (over 3300 proviruses), and analyzed, using a bioinformatic program, RetroTector, developed by us. This rich source of proviral information, accumulated in a local database, and a collection of XRV sequences from the literature, allowed the reconstruction of a Pol based phylogenetic tree, more extensive than previously possible. The aim was to find traits useful for classification and evolutionary studies of retroviruses. Some of these traits have been used by others, but they are here tested in a wider context than before. RESULTS: In the ERV collection we found sequences similar to the XRV-based genera: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, epsilon- and spumaretroviruses. However, the occurrence of intermediates between them indicated an evolutionary continuum and suggested that taxonomic changes eventually will be necessary. No delta or lentivirus representatives were found among ERVs. Classification based on Pol similarity is congruent with a number of structural traits. Acquisition of dUTPase occurred three times in retroviral evolution. Loss of one or two NC zinc fingers appears to have occurred several times during evolution. Nucleotide biases have been described earlier for lenti-, delta- and betaretroviruses and were here confirmed in a larger context. CONCLUSION: Pol similarities and other structural traits contribute to a better understanding of retroviral phylogeny. "Global" genomic properties useful in phylogenies are i.) translational strategy, ii.) number of Gag NC zinc finger motifs, iii.) presence of Pro N-terminal dUTPase (dUTPasePro), iv.) presence of Pro C-terminal G-patch and v.) presence of a GPY/F motif in the Pol integrase (IN) C-terminal domain. "Local" retroviral genomic properties useful for delineation of lower level taxa are i.) host species range, ii.) nucleotide compositional bias and iii.) LTR lengths.
Project description: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 M. caroli/EiJ and C57BL/6J strains. MDL-ERVs 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 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 mosaic-repeat unit preceded the tandem arrangement event. Further studies are warranted to understand the biological roles of MDL-ERVs in both normal and pathologic conditions.