[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are spread throughout the genome and their long terminal repeats (LTRs) constitute a wide collection of putative regulatory sequences. Phylogenetic similarities and the profusion of integration sites, two inherent characteristics of transposable elements, make it difficult to study individual locus expression in a large-scale approach, and historically apart from some placental and testis-regulated elements, it was generally accepted that HERVs are silent due to epigenetic control. Herein, we have introduced a generic method aiming to optimally characterize individual loci associated with 25-mer probes by minimizing cross-hybridization risks. We therefore set up a microarray dedicated to a collection of 5,573 HERVs that can reasonably be assigned to a unique genomic position. We obtained a first view of the HERV transcriptome by using a composite panel of 40 normal and 39 tumor samples. The experiment showed that almost one third of the HERV repertoire is indeed transcribed. The HERV transcriptome follows tropism rules, is sensitive to the state of differentiation and, unexpectedly, seems not to correlate with the age of the HERV families. The probeset definition within the U3 and U5 regions was used to assign a function to some LTRs (i.e. promoter or polyA) and revealed that (i) autonomous active LTRs are broadly subjected to operational determinism (ii) the cellular gene density is substantially higher in the surrounding environment of active LTRs compared to silent LTRs and (iii) the configuration of neighboring cellular genes differs between active and silent LTRs, showing an approximately 8 kb zone upstream of promoter LTRs characterized by a drastic reduction in sense cellular genes. These gathered observations are discussed in terms of virus/host adaptive strategies, and together with the methods and tools developed for this purpose, this work paves the way for further HERV transcriptome projects.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e40194. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For many encephalitis cases, the cause remains unidentified. After 2 children (from the same family) received a diagnosis of acute necrotizing encephalopathy at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (Tours, France), we attempted to identify the etiologic agent. Because clinical samples from the 2 patients were negative for all pathogens tested, urine and throat swab specimens were added to epithelial cells, and virus isolates detected were characterized by molecular analysis and electron microscopy. We identified a novel reovirus strain (serotype 2), MRV2Tou05, which seems to be closely related to porcine and human strains. A specific antibody response directed against this new reovirus strain was observed in convalescent-phase serum specimens from the patients, whereas no response was observed in 38 serum specimens from 38 healthy adults. This novel reovirus is a new etiologic agent of encephalitis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome analysis of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in patient sera is helpful for monitoring treatment. We developed an improved version of a DNA microarray to identify HBV genotypes and to detect mutations of interest in the S, Pol, Core, and X genes. It includes an automated software analysis of fluorescence values for simpler, more robust data interpretation. In this version, probes were added to identify genotype H, to analyze 155 additional positions, and to detect 561 additional polymorphisms. Sequences were added to the alignments to resolve hybridization problems due to natural polymorphisms in the vicinity of important codons. The duplex PCR protocol allowed whole-genome analysis in a single tube. An alternative nested-PCR protocol allowed genotyping and mutations in S and reverse transcriptase (rt) genes in patients with low viral loads, as demonstrated in patients with less than 400 HBV genome copies/ml. Reproducibility was high, with variation coefficients lower than 3%. Only 0.57% of 20,771 codons from 253 samples could not be identified. The concordance with Sanger sequencing for the identification of codons improved from 92.8% to 95.7% with the improved version. Concordance was higher than 91% for codons associated with resistance to lamivudine, emtricitabine, telbivudine, famciclovir, entecavir, and tenofovir with vaccine escape and for pre-Core mutants. Concordance was lower for adefovir resistance mutations (68.6%) and mutations in the basal core promoter (60.3%), probably because hybridization efficiency was affected by the low GC content of the probes. A concordance of 93.7% with sequencing for genotype identification was observed in 190 specimens, lower than that obtained with the first version, possibly due to mixed virus populations.
Journal of clinical microbiology 11/2010; 48(11):4207-15. · 4.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are an inherited part of the eukaryotic genomes, and represent approximately 400,000 loci in the human genome. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) can be divided into distinct families, composed of phylogenetically related but structurally heterogeneous elements. The majority of HERVs are silent in most physiological contexts, whereas a significant expression is observed in pathological contexts, such as cancers. Owing to their repetitive nature, few of the active HERV elements have been accurately identified. In addition, there are no criteria defining the active promoters among HERV long-terminal repeats (LTRs). Hence, it is difficult to understand the HERV (de)regulation mechanisms and their implication on the physiopathology of the host. We developed a microarray to specifically detect the LTR-containing transcripts from the HERV-H, HERV-E, HERV-W and HERV-K(HML-2) families. HERV transcriptome was analyzed in the placenta and seven normal/tumoral match-pair samples. We identified six HERV-W loci overexpressed in testicular cancer, including a usually placenta-restricted transcript of ERVWE1. For each locus, specific overexpression was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR, and comparison of the activity of U3 versus U5 regions suggested a U3-promoted transcription coupled with 5'R initiation. The analysis of DNA from tumoral versus normal tissue revealed that hypomethylation of U3 promoters in tumors is a prerequisite for their activation.
Nucleic Acids Research 04/2010; 38(7):2229-46. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) has been recurrently observed during cellular differentiation or transformation processes in both cell culture and in vivo. Quantitative approaches that analyze variations in HERV transcription could therefore be valuable for cancer diagnosis. We have developed a quantitative assay combining multiplex degenerate PCR (MD-PCR) and a colorimetric Oligo Sorbent Array (OLISA). Quantification of the expression of these multifamily genes relies on the optimization of the amplification primer mix, that is, the primer degeneracy, the relative concentration of each primer and the total amount of primer. Amplification products of each of the nine studied HERV families are independently and specifically detected and quantified using the OLISA microarray. This method constitutes an improvement over previous pan-retrovirus amplification-based methods, which are mainly qualitative. Furthermore, as MD-PCR/OLISA simultaneously monitors several HERV families, it challenges single-family quantitative RT-PCR. Last, the protocol below provides general rules for the design of MD-PCR applications. Once primers have been designed and optimized, the procedure can be completed in 2 days.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) can be divided into distinct families of tens to thousands of paralogous loci. The expression of HERV elements has been detected in all tissues tested to date, particularly germ cells, embryonic tissues and neoplastic tissues. Hence, the study of HERV expression could represent added value in cancer diagnosis. We developed a quantitative assay combining a multiplex degenerate PCR (MD-PCR) amplification, based on the relative conservation of the pol genes, and a colorimetric Oligo Sorbent Array (OLISA). Nine HERV families were selected and amplification primers and capture probes were designed for each family. The features required to achieve efficient amplification of most of the elements of each HERV family and balanced co-amplification of all HERV families were analyzed. We found that MD-PCR reliability, i.e. equivalence of amplification and dose-effect relationship, relied on the adjustment of three critical parameters: the primer degeneracy, the relative concentration of each primer and the total amount of primers in the amplification mixture. The analysis of tumoral versus normal tissues suggests that this assay could prove useful in tumor phenotyping.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(6):e46. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human HERV-W multicopy family includes a unique proviral locus, termed ERVWE1, whose full-length envelope ORF was preserved through evolution by the action of a selective pressure. The encoded Env protein (Syncytin) is involved in hominoid placental physiology.
In order to infer the natural history of this domestication process, a comparative genomic analysis of the human 7q21.2 syntenic regions in eutherians was performed. In primates, this region was progressively colonized by LTR-elements, leading to two different evolutionary pathways in Cercopithecidae and Hominidae, a genetic drift versus a domestication, respectively.
The preservation in Hominoids of a genomic structure consisting in the juxtaposition of a retrotransposon-derived MaLR LTR and the ERVWE1 provirus suggests a functional link between both elements.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human endogenous retrovirus HERV-W multicopy family includes a unique proviral locus, termed ERVWE1, which contains gag and pol pseudogenes and has retained a full-length envelope open reading frame (ORF). This Env protein (syncytin) is a highly fusogenic membrane glycoprotein and has been proposed to be involved in hominoid placental physiology. To track the hallmarks of natural selection acting on the ERVWE1 env gene, the pattern of substitutions and indels was analyzed within all human HERV-W elements and along the ERVWE1 orthologous loci in chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and gibbon. The comparison of ERVWE1 and paralogous HERV-W copies revealed an ERVWE1-specific signature consisting of a four amino acid deletion in the intracytoplasmic tail of the glycoprotein. We show that this deletion is crucial for the envelope fusogenic activity. The comparison of the human ERVWE1 locus with its orthologs demonstrates the existence of a selective pressure to maintain the env reading frame open. Notably, the 3' part of the env gene, encoding regions required for the fusion process, is under purifying selection. The identification of selective constraints on env ERVWE1 confirms that this retroviral locus has been recruited in the hominoid lineage to become a bona fide gene.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 11/2004; 21(10):1895-901. · 10.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous work on hepatitis C virus (HCV) led to the discovery of a new form of virus particle associating virus and lipoprotein elements. These hybrid particles (LVP for lipo-viro-particles) are enriched in triglycerides and contain at least apolipoprotein B (apoB), HCV RNA and core protein. These findings suggest that LVP synthesis could occur in liver and intestine, the two main organs specialized in the production of apoB-containing lipoprotein. To identify the site of LVP production, the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship of HCV quasispecies from purified LVP, whole serum and liver biopsies from chronically infected patients were studied. HCV quasispecies from LVP and liver differed significantly, suggesting that LVP were not predominantly synthesized in the liver but might also originate in the intestine. The authors therefore searched for the presence of HCV in the small intestine. Paraffin-embedded intestinal biopsies from 10 chronically HCV-infected patients and from 12 HCV RNA-negative controls (10 anti-HCV antibody-negative and two anti-HCV antibody-positive patients) were tested for HCV protein expression. HCV NS3 and NS5A proteins were stained in small intestine epithelial cells in four of the 10 chronically infected patients, and not in controls. Cells expressing HCV proteins were apoB-producing enterocytes but not mucus-secreting cells. These data indicate that the small intestine can be infected by HCV, and identify this organ as a potential reservoir and replication site. This further emphasizes the interaction between lipoprotein metabolism and HCV, and offers new insights into hepatitis C infection and pathophysiology.
Journal of General Virology 10/2004; 85(Pt 9):2515-23. · 3.13 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The definitive demonstration of a role for a recently acquired gene is a difficult task, requiring exhaustive genetic investigations and functional analysis. The situation is indeed much more complicated when facing multicopy gene families, because most or portions of the gene are conserved among the hundred copies of the family. This is the case for the ERVWE1 locus of the human endogenous retrovirus W family (HERV-W), which encodes an envelope glycoprotein (syncytin) likely involved in trophoblast differentiation. Here we describe, in 155 individuals, the positional conservation of this locus and the preservation of the envelope ORF. Sequencing of the critical elements of the ERVWE1 provirus showed a striking conservation among the 48 alleles of 24 individuals, including the LTR elements involved in the transcriptional machinery, the splice sites involved in the maturation of subgenomic Env mRNA, and the Env ORF. The functionality and tissue specificity of the 5' LTR were demonstrated, as well as the fusogenic activity of the envelope polymorphic variants. Such functions were also shown to be preserved in the orthologous loci isolated from chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and gibbon. This functional preservation among humans and during evolution strongly argued for the involvement of this recently acquired retroviral envelope glycoprotein in hominoid placental physiology.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2004; 101(6):1731-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor