Induction of Proinflammatory Multiple Sclerosis-Associated Retrovirus Envelope Protein by Human Herpesvirus-6A and CD46 Receptor Engagement.
ABSTRACT: The aberrant expression of human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) elements of the HERV-W family has been associated with different diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). In particular, the expression of the envelope protein (Env) from the multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus (MSRV), a member of HERV-W family and known for its potent proinflammatory activity, is repeatedly detected in the brain lesions and blood of MS patients. Furthermore, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection has long been suspected to play a role in the pathogenesis of MS and neuroinflammation. We show here that both HHV-6A and stimulation of its receptor, transmembrane glycoprotein CD46, induce the expression of MSRV-Env. The engagement of extracellular domains SCR3 and SCR4 of CD46-Cyt1 isoform was required for MSRV-env transactivation, limiting thus the MSRV-Env induction to the CD46 ligands binding these domains, including C3b component of complement, specific monoclonal antibodies, and both infectious and UV-inactivated HHV-6A, but neither HHV-6B nor measles virus vaccine strain. Induction of MSRV-Env required CD46 Cyt-1 singling and was abolished by the inhibitors of protein kinase C. Finally, both membrane-expressed and secreted MSRV-Env trigger TLR4 signaling, displaying thus a proinflammatory potential, characteristic for this viral protein. These data expand the specter of HHV-6A effects in the modulation of the immune response and support the hypothesis that cross-talks between exogenous and endogenous viruses may contribute to inflammatory diseases and participate in neuroinflammation. Furthermore, they reveal a new function of CD46, known as an inhibitor of complement activation and receptor for several pathogens, in transactivation of HERV env genes, which may play an important role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases.
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:BACKGROUND:The genetic basis involved in multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility was not completely revealed by genome-wide association studies. Part of it could lie in repetitive sequences, as those corresponding to human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs). Retrovirus-like particles were isolated from MS patients and the genome of the MS-associated retrovirus (MSRV) was the founder of the HERV-W family. We aimed to ascertain which chromosomal origin encodes the pathogenic ENV protein by genomic analysis of the HERV-W insertions. METHODS/RESULTS:In silico analyses allowed to uncover putative open reading frames containing the specific sequence previously reported for MSRV-like envelope (env) detection. Out of the 261 genomic insertions of HERV-W env, only 9 copies harbor the specific primers and probe featuring MSRV-like env. The copy from chromosome 20 was further studied considering its size, a truncated homologue of the functional HERV-W env sequence encoding syncytin. High Resolution Melting analysis of this sequence identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms, subsequently genotyped by Taqman chemistry in 668 MS patients and 678 healthy controls. No significant association of these polymorphisms with MS risk was evidenced. Transcriptional activity of this MSRV-like env copy was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients and controls. RNA expression levels of chromosome 20-specific MSRV-like env did not show significant differences between MS patients and controls, neither were related to genotypes of the two mentioned polymorphisms. CONCLUSIONS:The lack of association with MS risk of the identified polymorphisms together with the transcription results discard chromosome 20 as genomic origin of MSRV-like env.
Project description:Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex multifactorial disease of the central nervous system (CNS) for which animal models have mainly addressed downstream immunopathology but not potential inducers of autoimmunity. In the absence of a pathogen known to cause neuroinflammation in MS, Mycobacterial lysate is commonly used in the form of complete Freund's adjuvant to induce autoimmunity to myelin proteins in Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for MS. The present study demonstrates that a protein from the human endogenous retrovirus HERV-W family (MSRV-Env) can be used instead of mycobacterial lysate to induce autoimmunity and EAE in mice injected with MOG, with typical anti-myelin response and CNS lesions normally seen in this model. MSRV-Env was shown to induce proinflammatory response in human macrophage cells through TLR4 activation pathway. The present results demonstrate a similar activation of murine dendritic cells and show the ability of MSRV-Env to trigger EAE in mice. In previous studies, MSRV-Env protein was reproducibly detected in MS brain lesions within microglia and perivascular macrophages. The present results are therefore likely to provide a model for MS, in which the upstream adjuvant triggering neuroinflammation is the one detected in MS active lesions. This model now allows pre-clinical studies with therapeutic agents targeting this endogenous retroviral protein in MS.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease more prevalent in women than in men. Multiple Sclerosis Associated Retrovirus element (MSRV) is a member of type-W endogenous retrovirus family (HERV-W), known to be associated to MS. Most HERVs are unable to replicate but MSRV expression associated with reverse-transcriptase activity in MS would explain reported DNA copy number increase in MS patients. A potential link between HERV-W copies on chromosome X and gender differential prevalence has been suggested. The present study addresses MSRV-type DNA load in relation with the gender differences and clinical status in MS and healthy controls. RESULTS: 178 MS patients (62.9% women) and 124 controls (56.5% women) were included. MSRV env load (copies/pg of DNA) was analyzed by real time qPCR with specific primers and probe for its env gene, in DNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). MSRV load was more elevated in MS patients than in controls (p?=?4.15e-7). MS women presented higher MSRV load than control women (p?=?0.009) and MS men also had higher load than control men (p?=?2.77e-6). Besides, women had higher levels than men, both among patients (p?=?0.007) and controls (p?=?1.24e-6). Concordantly, EDSS and MSSS scores were higher among female patients with an elevated MSRV load (p?=?0.03 and p?=?0.04, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: MSRV increases its copy number in PBMC of MS patients and particularly in women with high clinical scores. This may explain causes underlying the higher prevalence of MS in women. The association with the clinical severity calls for further investigations on MSRV load in PBMCs as a biomarker for MS.
Project description:The multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus (MSRV) isolated from plasma of MS patients was found to be phylogenetically and experimentally related to human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). To characterize the MSRV-related HERV family and to test the hypothesis of a replication-competent HERV, we have investigated the expression of MSRV-related sequences in healthy tissues. The expression of MSRV-related transcripts restricted to the placenta led to the isolation of overlapping cDNA clones from a cDNA library. These cDNAs spanned a 7.6-kb region containing gag, pol, and env genes; RU5 and U3R flanking sequences; a polypurine tract; and a primer binding site (PBS). As this PBS showed similarity to avian retrovirus PBSs used by tRNATrp, this new HERV family was named HERV-W. Several genomic elements were identified, one of them containing a complete HERV-W unit, spanning all cDNA clones. Elements of this multicopy family were not replication competent, as gag and pol open reading frames (ORFs) were interrupted by frameshifts and stop codons. A complete ORF putatively coding for an envelope protein was found both on the HERV-W DNA prototype and within an RU5-env-U3R polyadenylated cDNA clone. Placental expression of 8-, 3.1-, and 1.3-kb transcripts was observed, and a putative splicing strategy was described. The apparently tissue-restricted HERV-W long terminal repeat expression is discussed with respect to physiological and pathological contexts.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Proposed co-factors triggering the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) are the Epstein Barr virus (EBV), and the potentially neuropathogenic MSRV (MS-associated retrovirus) and syncytin-1, of the W family of human endogenous retroviruses. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In search of links, the expression of HERV-W/MSRV/syncytin-1, with/without exposure to EBV or to EBV glycoprotein350 (EBVgp350), was studied on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy volunteers and MS patients, and on astrocytes, by discriminatory env-specific RT-PCR assays, and by flow cytometry. Basal expression of HERV-W/MSRV/syncytin-1 occurs in astrocytes and in monocytes, NK, and B, but not in T cells. This uneven expression is amplified in untreated MS patients, and dramatically reduced during therapy. In astrocytes, EBVgp350 stimulates the expression of HERV-W/MSRV/syncytin-1, with requirement of the NF-?B pathway. In EBVgp350-treated PBMC, MSRVenv and syncytin-1 transcription is activated in B cells and monocytes, but not in T cells, nor in the highly expressing NK cells. The latter cells, but not the T cells, are activated by proinflammatory cytokines. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In vitro EBV activates the potentially immunopathogenic and neuropathogenic HERV-W/MSRV/syncytin-1, in cells deriving from blood and brain. In vivo, pathogenic outcomes would depend on abnormal situations, as in late EBV primary infection, that is often symptomatic, or/and in the presence of particular host genetic backgrounds. In the blood, HERV-Wenv activation might induce immunopathogenic phenomena linked to its superantigenic properties. In the brain, toxic mechanisms against oligodendrocytes could be established, inducing inflammation, demyelination and axonal damage. Local stimulation by proinflammatory cytokines and other factors might activate further HERV-Ws, contributing to the neuropathogenity. In MS pathogenesis, a possible model could include EBV as initial trigger of future MS, years later, and HERV-W/MSRV/syncytin-1 as actual contributor to MS pathogenicity, in striking parallelism with disease behaviour.
Project description:Axonal degeneration is central to clinical disability and disease progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). Myeloid cells such as brain-resident microglia and blood-borne monocytes are thought to be critically involved in this degenerative process. However, the exact underlying mechanisms have still not been clarified. We have previously demonstrated that human endogenous retrovirus type W (HERV-W) negatively affects oligodendroglial precursor cell (OPC) differentiation and remyelination via its envelope protein pathogenic HERV-W (pHERV-W) ENV (formerly MS-associated retrovirus [MSRV]-ENV). In this current study, we investigated whether pHERV-W ENV also plays a role in axonal injury in MS. We found that in MS lesions, pHERV-W ENV is present in myeloid cells associated with axons. Focusing on progressive disease stages, we could then demonstrate that pHERV-W ENV induces a degenerative phenotype in microglial cells, driving them toward a close spatial association with myelinated axons. Moreover, in pHERV-W ENV-stimulated myelinated cocultures, microglia were found to structurally damage myelinated axons. Taken together, our data suggest that pHERV-W ENV-mediated microglial polarization contributes to neurodegeneration in MS. Thus, this analysis provides a neurobiological rationale for a recently completed clinical study in MS patients showing that antibody-mediated neutralization of pHERV-W ENV exerts neuroprotective effects.
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:There is growing evidence that the env genes of two or more human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) of the W family are contributing to the inflammatory processes, and thus to the pathogenesis, of multiple sclerosis (MS). Increasing understanding of the human endogenous retroviral locus, ERVWE1, and the putative multiple sclerosis associated retrovirus, or MSRV, and in particular of the HERV-W env sequences associated with these, offers the potential of new lines of pharmacological research that might assist diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of multiple sclerosis.
Project description:Viruses are able to interfere with the immune system by docking to receptors on host cells that are important for proper functioning of the immune system. A well-known example is the human immunodeficiency virus that uses CD4 cell surface molecules to enter host lymphocytes and thereby deleteriously destroying the helper cell population of the immune system. A more complicated mechanism is seen in multiple sclerosis (MS) where human herpes virus-6A (HHV-6A) infects astrocytes by docking to the CD46 surface receptor. Such HHV-6A infection in the brain of MS patients has recently been postulated to enable Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) to transform latently infected B-lymphocytes in brain lesions leading to the well-known phenomenon of oligoclonal immunoglobulin production that is widely used in the diagnosis of MS. The cellular immune response to HHV-6A and EBV is one part of the pathogenic mechanisms in MS. A more subtle pathogenic mechanism can be seen in the downregulation of CD46 on astrocytes by the infecting HHV-6A. Since CD46 is central in regulating the complement system, a lack of CD46 can lead to hyperactivation of the complement system. In fact, activation of the complement system in brain lesions is a well-known pathogenic mechanism in MS. In this review, it is postulated that a similar mechanism is central in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). One of the earliest changes in the retina of AMD patients is the loss of CD46 expression in the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in the course of geographic atrophy. Furthermore, CD46 deficient mice spontaneously develop dry-type AMD-like changes in their retina. It is also well known that certain genetic polymorphisms in the complement-inhibiting pathways correlate with higher risks of AMD development. The tenet is that HHV-6A infection of the retina leads to downregulation of CD46 and consequently to hyperactivation of the complement system in the eyes of susceptible individuals.