From ancestral infectious retroviruses to bona fide cellular genes: Role of the captured syncytins in placentation
ABSTRACT During their replication, infectious retroviruses insert a reverse-transcribed cDNA copy of their genome, a "provirus", into the genome of their host. If the infected cell belongs to the germline, the integrated provirus can become "fixed" within the host genome as an endogenous retrovirus and be transmitted vertically to the progeny in a Mendelian fashion. Based on the numerous proviral sequences that are recovered within the genomic DNA of vertebrates--up to ten percent in the case of mammals--such events must have occurred repeatedly during the course of millions of years of evolution. Although most of the ancient proviral sequences have been disrupted, a few "endogenized" retroviral genes are conserved and still encode functional proteins. In this review, we focus on the recent discovery of genes derived from the envelope glycoprotein-encoding (env) genes of endogenous retroviruses that have been domesticated by mammals to carry out an essential function in placental development. They were called syncytins based on the membrane fusogenic capacity that they have kept from their parental env gene and which contributes to the formation of the placental fused cell layer called the syncytiotrophoblast, at the materno-fetal interface. Remarkably, the capture of syncytin or syncytin-like genes, sometimes as pairs, was found to have occurred independently from different endogenous retroviruses in diverse mammalian lineages such as primates--including humans--, muroids, leporids, carnivores, caviids, and ovis, between around 10 and 85 million years ago. Knocking out one or both mouse syncytin-A and -B genes provided evidence that they indeed play a critical role in placentation. We discuss the possibility that the immunosuppressive domain embedded within retroviral envelope glycoproteins and conserved in syncytin proteins, may be involved in the tolerance of the fetus by the maternal immune system. Finally, we speculate that the capture of a founding syncytin-like gene could have been instrumental in the dramatic transition from egg-laying to placental mammals.
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ABSTRACT: Background LTR-retrotransposons became functional neogenes through evolution by acquiring promoter sequences, regulatory elements and sequence modification. Mammalian retrotransposon transcripts (Mart1-9), also called sushi-ichi-related retrotransposon-homolog (SIRH) genes, are a class of Ty3/gypsy LTR-retroelements showing moderate homology to the sushi-ichi LTR-retrotransposon in pufferfish. Rtl1/Mart1 and Peg10/Mart2 expression in mouse placenta and demonstration of their functional roles during placental development exemplifies their importance in cellular processes. In this study, we analyzed all eleven mouse Mart genes from the blastocyst stage and throughout placentogenesis in order to gain information about their expression and regulation. Results Quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunoblotting showed various expression patterns of the 11 mouse Mart genes through different placental stages. Zcchc5/Mart3, Zcchc16/ Mart4 and Rgag1/Mart9 expression was undetectable. Rtl1/Mart1, Peg10/Mart2, Rgag4/Mart5 – Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a gene expression was very low at the blastocyst stage. Later placental stages showed an increase of expression for Rtl1/Mart1, Rgag4/Mart5 – Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a, the latter up to 1,489 molecules/ng cDNA at E9.5. From our recently published findings Peg10/Mart2 was the most highly expressed Mart gene. ISH demonstrated sense and antisense transcript co-localization of Rgag4/Mart5 to Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a in trophoblast subtypes at the junctional zone, with an accumulation of antisense transcripts in the nuclei. To validate these results, we developed a TAG-aided sense/antisense transcript detection (TASA-TD) method, which verified sense and antisense transcripts for Rtl1/Mart1, Rgag4/Mart5 – Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a. Except for Rtl1/Mart1 and Cxx1a,b/Mart8b,c all other Mart genes showed a reduced amount of antisense transcripts. Northern blot and 5′ and 3′ RACE confirmed both sense and antisense transcripts for Ldoc1/Mart7 and Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a. Immunoblotting demonstrated a single protein throughout all placental stages for Ldoc1/Mart7, but for Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a a switch occurred from a 57 kDa protein at E10.5 and E14.5 to a 25 kDa protein at E16.5 and E18.5. Conclusions RNA and protein detection of mouse Mart genes support neo-functionalization of retrotransposons in mammalian genomes. Undetectable expression of Zcchc5/Mart3, Zcchc16/Mart4 and Rgag1/Mart9 indicate no role during mouse placentogenesis. Rgag4/Mart5 to Cxx1a,b,c/Mart8b,c,a gene expression support a role for differentiation from the ectoplacental cone. Mart antisense transcripts and protein alterations predict unique and complex molecular regulation in a time directed manner throughout mouse placentogenesis. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-015-0138-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.Retrovirology 12/2015; 12(1). DOI:10.1186/s12977-015-0138-8 · 4.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile DNA sequences representing a substantial fraction of most genomes. Through the creation of new genes and functions, TEs are important elements of genome plasticity and evolution. However TE insertion in human genomes may be the cause of genetic dysfunction and alteration of gene expression contributing to cancer and other human diseases. Besides the chromosome rearrangements induced by TE repeats, this mini-review shows how gene expression may be altered following TE insertion, for example by the creation of new polyadenylation sites, by the creation of new exons (exonization), by exon skipping and by other modification of alternative splicing, and also by the alteration of regulatory sequences. Through the correlation between TE mobility and the methylation status of DNA, the importance of chromatin regulation is evident in several diseases. Finally this overview ends with a brief presentation of the use of TEs as biotechnology tools for insertional mutagenesis screening and gene therapy with DNA transposons.Current cancer drug targets 03/2015; 15(3). DOI:10.2174/1568009615666150317122506 · 3.58 Impact Factor
- Der Nervenarzt 09/2013; DOI:10.1007/s00115-013-3896-3 · 0.86 Impact Factor