Studies on Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) with Special Focus on ERV3
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) represent approximately 7% of the human genome. This investigation was focused on one particular HERV, ERV3, with the main purpose of characterising its gene expression patterns and genomic distribution of ERV3-like sequences. Furthermore, this careful expression study should provide insights into the biological role of HERVs. The impact of HERVs in health and disease is not yet clarified. ERV3 is expressed as three envelope (env) transcripts, of which two also contain a cellular gene, H-plk (human proviral linked Krüppel). ERV3 env expression was mainly investigated at the RNA level. The gene expression of two other HERVs, HERV-K and HERV-E was analysed and compared with ERV3 activity.Real-time PCRs were developed and in combination with in situ hybridisation, it was found that ERV3 is expressed in a tissue- and cell-specific way. High levels of ERV3 mRNA (up to six times over Histone3.3) were demonstrated in placenta, sebaceous glands, foetal and adult adrenal glands, brown adipose tissue, corpus luteum, pituitary gland, thymus and testis. In monocytic cells including both normal monocytes and malignant U-937 cells, elevated mRNA levels were observed after retinoic acid (RA)-induced differentiation. ERV3-encoded Env protein was detected in selected cases, one following RA-treatment. In addition, several new ERV3-like sequences were discovered in the human genome. ERV3 was found to have conserved open reading frames in contrast to other ERV3-like sequences in the human genome. This suggests that ERV3 may be involved in important cellular processes such as differentiation, cell fusion, immunomodulation and protection against infectious retroviruses. The developed techniques and obtained results will allow further studies of HERV expression to better correlate HERV activity to both normal development and disease.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:MEDICINE; Dermatology and venerology,clinical genetics, internal medicine; Clinical genetics; Genetics; human endogenous retroviruses; HERV; ERV3; expression; in situ hybridisation; real-time PCR; U-937; retinoic acid.; Genetik; patologi; Pathology
Date of Publication:01/01/2002