April 21, 2020  |  

Structural variation of centromeric endogenous retroviruses in human populations and their impact on cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Sézary syndrome, and HIV infection.

Human Endogenous Retroviruses type K HML-2 (HK2) are integrated into 117 or more areas of human chromosomal arms while two newly discovered HK2 proviruses, K111 and K222, spread extensively in pericentromeric regions, are the first retroviruses discovered in these areas of our genome.We use PCR and sequencing analysis to characterize pericentromeric K111 proviruses in DNA from individuals of diverse ethnicities and patients with different diseases.We found that the 5′ LTR-gag region of K111 proviruses is missing in certain individuals, creating pericentromeric instability. K111 deletion (-/- K111) is seen in about 15% of Caucasian, Asian, and Middle Eastern populations; it is missing in 2.36% of African individuals, suggesting that the -/- K111 genotype originated out of Africa. As we identified the -/-K111 genotype in Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) cell lines, we studied whether the -/-K111 genotype is associated with CTCL. We found a significant increase in the frequency of detection of the -/-K111 genotype in Caucasian patients with severe CTCL and/or Sézary syndrome (n?=?35, 37.14%), compared to healthy controls (n?=?160, 15.6%) [p?=?0.011]. The -/-K111 genotype was also found to vary in HIV-1 infection. Although Caucasian healthy individuals have a similar frequency of detection of the -/- K111 genotype, Caucasian HIV Long-Term Non-Progressors (LTNPs) and/or elite controllers, have significantly higher detection of the -/-K111 genotype (30.55%; n?=?36) than patients who rapidly progress to AIDS (8.5%; n?=?47) [p?=?0.0097].Our data indicate that pericentromeric instability is associated with more severe CTCL and/or Sézary syndrome in Caucasians, and appears to allow T-cells to survive lysis by HIV infection. These findings also provide new understanding of human evolution, as the -/-K111 genotype appears to have arisen out of Africa and is distributed unevenly throughout the world, possibly affecting the severity of HIV in different geographic areas.


September 22, 2019  |  

HIV-1 infection of primary CD4(+) T cells regulates the expression of specific HERV-K (HML-2) elements.

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) occupy extensive regions of the human genome. Although many of these retroviral elements have lost their ability to replicate, those whose insertion took place more recently, such as the HML-2 group of HERV-K elements, still retain intact open reading frames and the capacity to produce certain viral RNA and/or proteins. Transcription of these ERVs is, however, tightly regulated by dedicated epigenetic control mechanisms. Nonetheless, it has been reported that some pathologic states, such as viral infections and certain cancers, coincide with ERV expression suggesting transcriptional reawakening is possible. HML-2 elements are reportedly induced during HIV-1 infection, but the conserved nature of these elements has, until recently, rendered their expression profiling problematic.Here, we provide comprehensive HERV-K HML-2 expression profiles specific for productively HIV-1 infected primary human CD4(+) T cells. We combined enrichment of HIV-1 infected cells using a reporter virus expressing a surface reporter for gentle and efficient purification with long-read Single Molecule Real-Time sequencing. We show that three HML-2 proviruses, 6q25.1, 8q24.3, and 19q13.42 are up-regulated on average between 3- and 5-fold in HIV-1 infected CD4(+) T cells. One provirus, HML-2 12q24.33, in contrast, was repressed in the presence of active HIV replication.In conclusion, this report identifies the HERV-K HML-2 loci whose expression profiles differ upon HIV-1 infection in primary human CD4(+) T cells. These data will help pave the way for further studies on the influence of endogenous retroviruses on HIV-1 replication.Importance Endogenous retroviruses inhabit big portions of our genome. And although they are mainly inert some of the evolutionarily younger members maintain the ability to express both RNA as well as proteins. We have developed an approach using long-read SMRT sequencing that produces long reads, that provides us with ability to obtain detailed and accurate HERV-K HML-2 expression profiles. We have now applied this approach to study HERV-K expression in the presence and absence of productive HIV-1 infection of primary human CD4(+) T cells. In addition to using SMRT sequencing, our strategy also includes the magnetic selection of the infected cells so that levels of background expression due to uninfected cells are kept at a minimum. The results in this manuscript provide the blueprint for in-depth studies of the interactions of the authentic upregulated HERV-K HML-2 elements and HIV-1. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

HIV-1 interacts with human endogenous retrovirus K (HML-2) envelopes derived from human primary lymphocytes.

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.


July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read genome sequence assembly provides insight into ongoing retroviral invasion of the koala germline.

The koala retrovirus (KoRV) is implicated in several diseases affecting the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). KoRV provirus can be present in the genome of koalas as an endogenous retrovirus (present in all cells via germline integration) or as exogenous retrovirus responsible for somatic integrations of proviral KoRV (present in a limited number of cells). This ongoing invasion of the koala germline by KoRV provides a powerful opportunity to assess the viral strategies used by KoRV in an individual. Analysis of a high-quality genome sequence of a single koala revealed 133 KoRV integration sites. Most integrations contain full-length, endogenous provirus; KoRV-A subtype. The second most frequent integrations contain an endogenous recombinant element (recKoRV) in which most of the KoRV protein-coding region has been replaced with an ancient, endogenous retroelement. A third set of integrations, with very low sequence coverage, may represent somatic cell integrations of KoRV-A, KoRV-B and two recently designated additional subgroups, KoRV-D and KoRV-E. KoRV-D and KoRV-E are missing several genes required for viral processing, suggesting they have been transmitted as defective viruses. Our results represent the first comprehensive analyses of KoRV integration and variation in a single animal and provide further insights into the process of retroviral-host species interactions.


July 7, 2019  |  

The challenges and importance of structural variation detection in livestock.

Recent studies in humans and other model organisms have demonstrated that structural variants (SVs) comprise a substantial proportion of variation among individuals of each species. Many of these variants have been linked to debilitating diseases in humans, thereby cementing the importance of refining methods for their detection. Despite progress in the field, reliable detection of SVs still remains a problem even for human subjects. Many of the underlying problems that make SVs difficult to detect in humans are amplified in livestock species, whose lower quality genome assemblies and incomplete gene annotation can often give rise to false positive SV discoveries. Regardless of the challenges, SV detection is just as important for livestock researchers as it is for human researchers, given that several productive traits and diseases have been linked to copy number variations (CNVs) in cattle, sheep, and pig. Already, there is evidence that many beneficial SVs have been artificially selected in livestock such as a duplication of the agouti signaling protein gene that causes white coat color in sheep. In this review, we will list current SV and CNV discoveries in livestock and discuss the problems that hinder routine discovery and tracking of these polymorphisms. We will also discuss the impacts of selective breeding on CNV and SV frequencies and mention how SV genotyping could be used in the future to improve genetic selection.


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