Co-option of an endogenous retrovirus envelope for host defense in hominid ancestors.
ABSTRACT: Endogenous retroviral sequences provide a molecular fossil record of ancient infections whose analysis might illuminate mechanisms of viral extinction. A close relative of gammaretroviruses, HERV-T, circulated in primates for ~25 million years (MY) before apparent extinction within the past ~8 MY. Construction of a near-complete catalog of HERV-T fossils in primate genomes allowed us to estimate a ~32 MY old ancestral sequence and reconstruct a functional envelope protein (ancHTenv) that could support infection of a pseudotyped modern gammaretrovirus. Using ancHTenv, we identify monocarboxylate transporter-1 (MCT-1) as a receptor used by HERV-T for attachment and infection. A single HERV-T provirus in hominid genomes includes an env gene (hsaHTenv) that has been uniquely preserved. This apparently exapted HERV-T env could not support virion infection but could block ancHTenv mediated infection, by causing MCT-1 depletion from cell surfaces. Thus, hsaHTenv may have contributed to HERV-T extinction, and could also potentially regulate cellular metabolism.
Project description:Recently, we identified and classified 926 human endogenous retrovirus H (HERV-H)-like proviruses in the human genome. In this paper, we used the information to, in silico, reconstruct a putative ancestral HERV-H. A calculated consensus sequence was nearly open in all genes. A few manual adjustments resulted in a putative 9-kb HERV-H provirus with open reading frames (ORFs) in gag, pro, pol, and env. Long terminal repeats (LTRs) differed by 1.1%, indicating proximity to an integration event. The gag ORF was extended upstream of the normal myristylation start site. There was a long leader (including a "pre-gag" ORF) region positioned like the N terminus of murine leukemia virus (MLV) "glyco-Gag," potentially encoding a proline- and serine-rich domain remotely similar to MLV pp12. Another ORF, starting inside the 5' LTR, had no obvious similarity to known protein domains. Unlike other hitherto described gammaretroviruses, the reconstructed Gag had two zinc finger motifs. Alternative splicing of sequences related to the HERV-H consensus was confirmed using dbEST data. env transcripts were most prevalent in colon tumors, but also in normal testis. We found no evidence for full length env transcripts in the dbEST. HERV-H had a markedly skewed nucleotide composition, disfavoring guanine and favoring cytidine. We conclude that the HERV-H consensus shared a gene arrangement common to gammaretroviruses with gag separated by stop codon from pro-pol in the same reading frame, while env resides in another reading frame. There was also alternative splicing. HERV-H consensus yielded new insights in gammaretroviral evolution and will be useful as a model in studies on expression and function.
Project description:Human Endogenous Retrovirus W Envelope (HERV-W ENV) mRNA or protein can be found in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and exocrine pancreas of patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Further, previous observations have shown an association between enteroviral infection and development of T1D; specifically, coxsackievirus-B (CV-B) has been detected in the blood and pancreas of patients with T1D. Notably, viruses can activate HERV-W expression. Hence, we evaluated the effect of CV-B4 infection on HERV-W ENV mRNA expression. Primary human pancreatic ductal cells were obtained from five brain-dead donors. In the pancreatic cells of three donors, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level measured using RT-qPCR was upregulated upon CV-B4 infection. The HERV-W ENV protein was detected in the infected cells using the immunoblot assay. In human PBMCs inoculated with CV-B4 or when CV-B4 was incubated with an enhancing serum, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level was higher than the background RNA level. In monocyte-derived macrophages obtained from 5 of 13 donors, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level was higher in cultures inoculated with CV-B4 than in the control. Therefore, CV-B4 can upregulate or induce the transcription of a certain HERV-W ENV copy (or copies) in primary cell cultures, such as monocytes, macrophages, and pancreatic cells.
Project description:Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are differentially expressed depending on the cell type and physiological circumstances. HERV-K has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases although the functional consequences of its expression remain unknown. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection causes neuroinflammation with neuronal damage and death. Herein, we investigated HERV-K(II)/(HML-2) envelope (Env) expression and its actions in the brain during HIV/AIDS. HERV-K(II) Env expression was assessed in healthy brain tissues, autopsied HIV HIV- infected (HIV+) and uninfected (HIV-) brains and in neural cell cultures by real time RT-PCR, massively parallel (deep) sequencing, immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Neuronal and neural stem cells expressing HERV-K(II) Env were analyzed in assays of host responses including cellular viability, immune responses and neurobehavioral outcomes. Deep sequencing of human brain transcriptomes disclosed that RNA sequences encoded by HERV-K were among the most abundant HERV sequences detected in human brain. Comparison of different cell types revealed that HERV-K(II) env RNA abundance was highest in cultured human neurons but was suppressed by epidermal growth factor exposure. HERV-K(II) Env immunoreactivity was increased in the cerebral cortex from persons with HIV/AIDS, principally localized in neurons. Human neuronal cells transfected with HERV-K(II) Env exhibited increased NGF and BDNF expression. Expression of HERV-K(II) Env in neuronal cells increased cellular viability and prevented neurotoxicity mediated by HIV-1 Vpr. Intracerebral delivery of HERV-K(II) Env expressed by neural stem cells suppressed TNF-? expression and microglial activation while also improving neurobehavioral deficits in vpr/RAG1-/- mice. HERV-K(II) Env was highly expressed in human neurons, especially during HIV/AIDS, but in addition exerted neuroprotective effects. These findings imply that HERV gene products might exert adaptive effects in circumstances of pathophysiological stress, perhaps underlying the conservation of HERVs within the human genome.
Project description:The human endogenous retrovirus type K (HERV-K) family codes for the human teratocarcinoma-derived retrovirus (HTDV) particles. The existence of the envelope protein (ENV) of HERV-K encoded by the subgenomic env mRNA has not yet been demonstrated. To study the genetic requirements for successful expression of ENV, we have constructed a series of recombinant HERV-K env expression vectors for infection and transfection experiments in insect cells and mammalian cells, respectively. Six baculovirus constructs bearing full-length or truncated HERV-K env with or without homologous or heterologous signal peptides were used for infections of insect cells. All recombinant baculoviruses yielded ENV proteins with the expected molecular masses. The full-length 80- to 90-kDa HERV-K ENV protein including the cORF leader sequence was glycosylated in insect cells. In addition, the 14-kDa cORF protein was expressed due to splicing of the full-length env mRNA. The ENV precursor protein is not cleaved to the surface (SU) and transmembrane (TM) glycoproteins; it does not appear on the surface of infected insect cells and is not secreted into the medium. For ENV expression in COS cells, plasmid vectors harboring the cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter/intron A element and the tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) signal peptide or the homologous HERV-K signal peptide upstream of the env gene were employed. Glycosylated and uncleaved ENV was expressed as in GH teratocarcinoma cells but at higher levels. The heterologous t-PA signal sequence was instrumental for expression of HERV-K ENV on the cell surface. Hence, we have shown for the first time that the HERV-K env gene has the potential to be expressed as a full-length envelope protein with appropriate glycosylation. In addition, our data provide explanations for the lack of infectivity of HERV-K/HTDV particles.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), remnants of ancient germline infections, comprise 8% of the human genome. The most recently integrated includes human ERV-K (HERV-K) where several envelope (env) sequences remain intact. Viral pseudotypes decorated with one of those Envs are infectious. Using a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus encoding HERV-K Env as its sole attachment and fusion protein (VSV-HERVK) we conducted a genome-wide haploid genetic screen to interrogate the host requirements for infection. This screen identified 11 genes involved in heparan sulfate biosynthesis. Genetic inhibition or chemical removal of heparan sulfate and addition of excess soluble heparan sulfate inhibit infection. Direct binding of heparin to soluble HERV-K Env and purified VSV-HERVK defines it as critical for viral attachment. Cell surface bound VSV-HERVK particles are triggered to infect on exposure to acidic pH, whereas acid pH pretreatment of virions blocks infection. Testing of additional endogenous HERV-K env sequences reveals they bind heparin and mediate acid pH triggered fusion. This work reconstructs and defines key steps in the infectious entry pathway of an extinct virus.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Morphea or localized scleroderma is a relatively rare disease whose main symptom is excessive skin fibrosis. Here we focus on the involvement of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) in morphea. The HERVs are a vast and intensely growing field in genomics. HERVs are of special interest as far as autoimmune disorders are concerned, yet little effort has been made until now to assess the possible changes of their expression in morphea. MATERIAL AND METHODS:Six sequences of particular interest were chosen for this study. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed on samples derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and skin biopsies. The results were normalized to the level of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) transcription. RESULTS:In PBMCs we found a statistically significant decrease of transcription of HERV-E pol, while HERV-K env, HERV-R pol-env, and HERV-W env were found to be up-regulated. In skin biopsies HERV-K env was strongly up-regulated. On the other hand, we noted a decrease of transcription of HERV-H env 62, HERV-K10 gag, HERV-R pol-env, and HERV-W env. In PBMCs we found a statistically significant decrease of transcription of HERV-E pol (-81.8%, p < 0.001), while HERV-K env (+94.1%, p = 0.010), HERV-R pol-env (+140.0%, p < 0.001), and HERV-W env (+97.7%, p < 0.001) were found to be up-regulated. In skin biopsies HERV-K env was strongly up-regulated (+713.0%, p = 0.003). On the other hand, we noted a decrease of transcription of HERV-H env 62 (-83.5%, p < 0.001, HERV-K10 gag (-33.7%, p = 0.044), HERV-R pol-env (-71.3%, p < 0.001), and HERV-W env (-59.3%, p = 0.029). CONCLUSIONS:The studied HERV sequences generally show an increase of transcription in PBMCs of morphea patients, while being down-regulated in their skin, with some exceptions for both types of tissue.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus (MSRV) RNA sequences have been detected in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and are related to the multi-copy human endogenous retrovirus family type W (HERV-W). Only one HERV-W locus (ERVWE1) codes for a complete HERV-W Env protein (Syncytin-1). Syncytin-1 and the putative MSRV Env protein have been involved in the pathogenesis of MS. The origin of MSRV and its precise relation to HERV-W were hitherto unknown. RESULTS: By mapping HERV-W env cDNA sequences (n = 332) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with MS and healthy controls onto individual genomic HERV-W env elements, we identified seven transcribed HERV-W env loci in these cells, including ERVWE1. Transcriptional activity of individual HERV-W env elements did not significantly differ between patients with MS and controls. Remarkably, almost 30% of HERV-W env cDNAs were recombined sequences that most likely arose in vitro between transcripts from different HERV-W env elements. Re-analysis of published MSRV env sequences revealed that all of them can be explained as originating from genomic HERV-W env loci or recombinations among them. In particular, a MSRV env clone previously used for the generation of monoclonal antibody 6A2B2, detecting an antigen in MS brain lesions, appears to be derived from a HERV-W env locus on chromosome Xq22.3. This locus harbors a long open reading frame for an N-terminally truncated HERV-W Env protein. CONCLUSION: Our data clarify the origin of MSRV env sequences, have important implications for the status of MSRV, and open the possibility that a protein encoded by a HERV-W env element on chromosome Xq22.3 may be expressed in MS brain lesions.
Project description:Genome-wide screening of sequence databases for human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) has led to the identification of 18 coding env genes, among which two-the syncytin genes-encode fusogenic ENV proteins possibly involved in placenta physiology. Here we show that a third ENV, originating from the most "recent" HERV-K(HML2) family, is functional. Immunofluorescence analysis of env-transduced cells demonstrates expression of the protein at the cell surface, and we show that the protein confers infectivity to simian immunodeficiency virus pseudotypes. Western blot analysis of the pseudotyped virions further discloses the expected specific cleavage of the ENV precursor protein. This functional ENV could play a role in the amplification--via infection of the germ line--of the HERV-K genomic copies, all the more as coding HERV-K gag and pol genes can similarly be found in the human genome, which could therefore generate infectious virions of a fully endogenous origin.
Project description:Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are viruses that have colonized the germ line and spread through vertical passage. Only the more recently acquired HERVs, such as the HERV-K (HML-2) group, maintain coding open reading frames. Expression of HERV-Ks has been linked to different pathological conditions, including HIV infection, but our knowledge on which specific HERV-Ks are expressed in primary lymphocytes currently is very limited. To identify the most expressed HERV-Ks in an unbiased manner, we analyzed their expression patterns in peripheral blood lymphocytes using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. We observe that three HERV-Ks (KII, K102, and K18) constitute over 90% of the total HERV-K expression in primary human lymphocytes of five different donors. We also show experimentally that two of these HERV-K env sequences (K18 and K102) retain their ability to produce full-length and posttranslationally processed envelope proteins in cell culture. We show that HERV-K18 Env can be incorporated into HIV-1 but not simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) particles. Moreover, HERV-K18 Env incorporation into HIV-1 virions is dependent on HIV-1 matrix. Taken together, we generated high-resolution HERV-K expression profiles specific for activated human lymphocytes. We found that one of the most abundantly expressed HERV-K envelopes not only makes a full-length protein but also specifically interacts with HIV-1. Our findings raise the possibility that these endogenous retroviral Env proteins could directly influence HIV-1 replication.Here, we report the HERV-K expression profile of primary lymphocytes from 5 different healthy donors. We used a novel deep-sequencing technology (PacBio SMRT) that produces the long reads necessary to discriminate the complexity of HERV-K expression. We find that primary lymphocytes express up to 32 different HERV-K envelopes, and that at least two of the most expressed Env proteins retain their ability to make a protein. Importantly, one of them, the envelope glycoprotein of HERV-K18, is incorporated into HIV-1 in an HIV matrix-specific fashion. The ramifications of such interactions are discussed, as the possibility of HIV-1 target tissue broadening and immune evasion are considered.
Project description:BACKGROUND: We previously showed that the envelope (env) sequence of a human endogenous retrovirus (HERV)-W locus on chromosome Xq22.3 is transcribed in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The env open reading frame (ORF) of this locus is interrupted by a premature stop at codon 39, but otherwise harbors a long ORF for an N-terminally truncated 475 amino acid Env protein, starting at an in-frame ATG at codon 68. We set out to characterize the protein encoded by that ORF. RESULTS: Transient expression of the 475 amino acid Xq22.3 HERV-W env ORF produced an N-terminally truncated HERV-W Env protein, as detected by the monoclonal anti-HERV-W Env antibodies 6A2B2 and 13H5A5. Remarkably, reversion of the stop at codon 39 in Xq22.3 HERV-W env reconstituted a full-length HERV-W Xq22.3 Env protein. Similar to the full-length HERV-W Env protein Syncytin-1, reconstituted full-length Xq22.3 HERV-W Env is glycosylated, forms oligomers, and is expressed at the cell surface. In contrast, Xq22.3 HERV-W Env is unglycosylated, does not form oligomers, and is located intracellularly, probably due to lack of a signal peptide. Finally, we reconfirm by immunohistochemistry that monoclonal antibody 6A2B2 detects an antigen expressed in placenta and multiple sclerosis brain lesions. CONCLUSIONS: A partially defective HERV-W env gene located on chromosome Xq22.3, which we propose to designate ERVWE2, has retained coding capacity and can produce ex vivo an N-terminally truncated Env protein, named N-Trenv. Detection of an antigen by 6A2B2 in placenta and multiple sclerosis lesions opens the possibility that N-Trenv could be expressed in vivo. More generally, our findings are compatible with the idea that defective HERV elements may be capable of producing incomplete HERV proteins that, speculatively, may exert functions in human physiology or pathology.