Emerging evidence suggests that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is highly prevalent in tumours of different origin. This virus is implied to have oncogenic and oncomodulatory functions, through its ability to control host gene expression. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) are also frequently active in tumours of different origin, and are supposed to contribute as cofactors to cancer development. Due to the high prevalence of HCMV in several different tumours, and its ability to control host cell gene expression, we sought to define whether HCMV may affect HERV transcription.
The pathomechanism of mycosis fungoides (MF), the most common type of primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) and a malignancy of non-recirculating, skin-resident T-cells, is unknown albeit underlying viral infections have been sought for. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are ancient retroviral sequences in the human genome and their transcription is often deregulated in cancers. We explored the transcriptional activity of HERV sequences in a total of 34 samples comprising MF and psoriasis skin lesions, as well as corresponding non-malignant skin using a retrovirus-specific microarray and quantitative RT-PCR. To identify active HERV-W loci, we cloned the HERV-W specific RT-PCR products, sequenced the cDNA clones and assigned the sequences to HERV-W loci. Finally, we used immunohistochemistry on MF patient and non-malignant inflammatory skin samples to confirm specific HERV-encoded protein expression. Firstly, a distinct, skin-specific transcription profile consisting of five constitutively active HERV groups was established. Although individual variability was common, HERV-W showed significantly increased transcription in MF lesions compared to clinically intact skin from the same patient. Predominantly transcribed HERV-W loci were found to be located in chromosomes 6q21 and 7q21.2, chromosomal regions typically altered in CTCL. Surprisingly, we also found the expression of 7q21.2/ERVWE1-encoded Syncytin-1 (Env) protein in MF biopsies and expression of Syncytin-1 was seen in malignant lymphocytes, especially in the epidermotropic ones, in 15 of 30 cases studied. Most importantly, no Syncytin-1 expression was detected in inflammatory dermatosis (Lichen ruber planus) with skin-homing, non-malignant T lymphocytes. The expression of ERVWE1 mRNA was further confirmed in 3/7 MF lesions analyzed. Our observations strengthen the association between activated HERVs and cancer. The study offers a new perspective into the pathogenesis of CTCL since we demonstrate that differences in HERV-W transcription levels between lesional MF and non-malignant skin are significant, and that ERVWE1-encoded Syncytin-1 is expressed in MF lymphoma cells.
Ku, a cellular complex required for human cell survival and involved in double strand break DNA repair and multiple other cellular processes, may modulate retroviral multiplication, although the precise mechanism through which it acts is still controversial. Recently, Ku was identified as a possible anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) target in human cells, in two global approaches. Here we investigated the role of Ku on the HIV-1 replication cycle by analyzing the expression level of a panel of non-replicative lentiviral vectors expressing the green fluorescent protein in human colorectal carcinoma HCT 116 cells, stably or transiently depleted of Ku. We found that in this cellular model the depletion of Ku did not affect the efficiency of (pre-)integrative steps but decreased the early HIV-1 expression by acting at the transcriptional level. This negative effect was specific of the HIV-1 promoter, required the obligatory step of viral DNA integration and was reversed by transient depletion of p53. We also provided evidence on a direct binding of Ku to HIV-1 LTR in transduced cells. Ku not only promotes the early transcription from the HIV-1 promoter, but also limits the constitution of viral latency. Moreover, in the presence of a normal level of Ku, HIV-1 expression was gradually lost over time, likely due to the counter-selection of HIV-1-expressing cells. On the contrary, the reactivation of transgene expression from HIV-1 by means of trichostatin A- or tumor necrosis factor ?-administration was enhanced under condition of Ku haplodepletion, suggesting a phenomenon of provirus latency. These observations plead in favor of the hypothesis that Ku has an impact on HIV-1 expression and latency at early- and mid-time after integration.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) represent approximately 8% of our genome. HERVs influence cellular gene expression and contribute to normal physiological processes such as cellular differentiation and morphogenesis. HERVs have also been associated with certain pathological conditions, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. As HTLV-1 causes adult T-cell leukemia and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and has been shown to modulate host gene expression mainly through the expression of the powerful Tax transactivator, herein we were interested in looking at the potential modulation capacity of HTLV-1 Tax on HERV expression. In order to evaluate the promoter activity of different HERV LTRs, pHERV-LTR-luc constructs were co-transfected in Jurkat T-cells with a Tax expression vector. Tax expression potently increased the LTR activity of HERV-W8 and HERV-H (MC16). In parallel, Jurkat cells were also stimulated with different T-cell-activating agents and HERV LTRs were observed to respond to different combination of Forskolin, bpV[pic] a protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor, and PMA. Transfection of expression vectors for different Tax mutants in Jurkat cells showed that several transcription factors including CREB appeared to be important for HERV-W8 LTR activation. Deletion mutants were derived from the HERV-W8 LTR and the region from -137 to -123 was found to be important for LTR response following Tax expression in Jurkat cells, while a different region was shown to be required in cells treated with activators. Our results thus demonstrated that HTLV-1 Tax activates several HERV LTRs. This raises the possibility that upregulated HERV expression could be involved in diseases associated with HTLV-1 infection.
The human genome comprises approximately 8-9?% of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) that are transcribed with tissue specificity. However, relatively few organs have been examined in detail for individual differences in HERV transcription pattern, nor have tissue-to-cell culture comparisons been frequently performed. Using an HERV-specific DNA microarray, a core HERV transcription profile was established for the human kidney comparing 10 tissue samples. This core represents HERV groups expressed uniformly or nearly so in non-tumour kidney tissue. The profiles obtained from non-tumour tissues were compared to 10 renal tumour tissues (renal cell carcinoma, RCC) derived from the same individuals and additionally, to 22 RCC cell lines. No RCC cell line or tumour-specific differences were observed, suggesting that HERV transcription is not altered in RCC. However, when comparing tissue transcription to cell line transcription, there were consistent differences. The differences were irrespective of cancer state and included cell lines derived from non-tumour kidney tissue, suggesting that a specific alteration of HERV transcription occurs when establishing cell lines. In contrast to previous publications, all known HERV-derived tumour antigens, including those identified in RCC, were expressed both in multiple RCC cell lines and several non-tumour tissue-derived cell lines, a result that contrasts with findings from patient samples. The results establish the core kidney transcription pattern of HERVs and reveal differences between cell culture lines and tissue samples.
In human astrocytes, restriction of HIV replication involves inhibition of HIV Rev activity. We previously identified a Rev-interacting human protein fragment (16.4.1) that can reduce Rev activity. The 16.4.1 sequence is contained in a group of highly similar host cell proteins, which we call the Risp family. Here we investigate whether the Risp family is connected to HIV replication in astrocytes.
Prion diseases are neurodegenerative diseases associated with the accumulation of a pathogenic isoform of the host-encoded prion protein. The cellular responses to prion infection are not well defined. By performing microarray analysis on cultured neuronal cells infected with prion strain 22L, in the group of up-regulated genes we observed predominantly genes of the cholesterol pathway. Increased transcript levels of at least nine enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis, including the gene for the rate-limiting hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase, were detected. Up-regulation of cholesterogenic genes was attributable to a prion-dependent increase in the amount and activity of the sterol regulatory element-binding protein Srebp2, resulting in elevated levels of total and free cellular cholesterol. The up-regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis appeared to be a characteristic response of neurons to prion challenge, as cholesterogenic transcripts were also elevated in persistently infected GT-1 cells and prion-exposed primary hippocampal neurons but not in microglial cells and primary astrocytes. These results convincingly demonstrate that prion propagation not only depends on the availability of cholesterol but that neuronal cells themselves respond to prions with specific up-regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis.
The human genome contains more than half a million human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) long terminal repeats (LTRs) that can be regarded as mobile regulatory modules. Many of these HERV LTRs have been recruited during evolution as transcriptional control elements for cellular gene expression. We have cloned LTR sequences from two HERV families, HERV-H and HERV-L, differing widely in their activity and tissue specificity into a murine leukemia virus (MLV)-based promoter conversion vector (ProCon). Various human cell lines were infected with the HERV-MLV hybrid vectors, and cell type-specific expression of the reporter gene was compared with the promoter specificity of the corresponding HERV LTRs in transient-transfection assays. Transcription start site analysis of HERV-MLV hybrid vectors revealed preferential use of the HERV promoter initiation site. Our data show that HERV LTRs function in the context of retroviral vectors in certain cell types and have the potential to be useful as cell type-specific promoters in vector construction.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) and related elements account for more than 8% of the human genome and significantly contribute to the human transcriptome by long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter activity. In this context, HERVs are thought to intervene in the expression of adjacent genes by providing regulatory sequences (cis-effect) or via noncoding RNA including natural antisense transcripts. To address the potential impact of HERV activity in urothelial carcinoma, we comparatively analyzed the HERV transcription profiles in paired samples of non-malignant urothelium and urothelial carcinoma derived from 13 patients with bladder cancer by means of a retrovirus-specific microarray (RetroArray). We established a characteristic HERV signature consisting of six ubiquitously active HERV subgroups (E4-1, HERV-Rb, ERV9, HERV-K-T47D, NMWV3, HERV-KC4). The transcription pattern is largely identical in human urothelial carcinoma, non-malignant urothelial tissue, four tumor-derived cell lines and in a non-malignant urothelial cell line (UROtsa). Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) of HERV-E4-1, HERV-K(HML-6) and HERV-T(S71-TK1) revealed a bias to lower HERV activity in carcinoma samples compared to non-malignant tissue. Determination of active HERV-E4-1 loci by cloning and sequencing revealed six HERV-E4-1 proviral loci that are differentially regulated in urothelial carcinoma cells and normal tissue. Two full-length HERV-E4-1 proviruses, HERV-Ec1 and HERV-Ec6, are located in antisense orientation in introns of the genes PLA2G4A and RNGTT, respectively. PLA2G4A encodes a cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) that is dysregulated in many human tumors. PLA2G4A and HERV-Ec1 displayed reciprocal transcript levels in 7 of 11 urothelial carcinoma patients. Moreover, reciprocal shifts were observed after treatment of UROtsa cells with HERV-Ec1 and PLA2G4A-directed siRNAs or 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine (aza-dC) pointing to an antagonistic regulation of PLA2G4A and HERV-Ec1 transcription in human urothelial cells. We suggest that transcription of HERV-Ec1 contributes to fine tuning of cPLA2 expression, thereby facilitating tumorigenesis.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) have been associated with various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Transcripts and proteins of at least three HERV groups, HERV-W, ERV9 and HERV-K(HML-2) have been detected repeatedly in brain samples or cerebrospinal fluid of patients with schizophrenia suggesting that alterations in HERV activity may play a role in etiopathogenesis. Current therapies otherwise include neuroleptics and/or antidepressants that may induce epigenetic alterations and thus influence HERV expression. To investigate the effects of these drugs on HERV transcriptional activity, HERV expression profiles of a broad range of human brain cell lines treated with valproic acid (VPA), haloperidol, risperidone, and clozapine were analyzed using a retrovirus-specific microarray and qRT-PCR. Investigation of 52 HERV subgroups revealed upregulation of several class I and class II HERV elements by VPA in a dose-dependent manner. The strongest effect was observed on HERV-W and ERV9 groups in the human glioblastoma cell lines SK-N-SH and SK-N-MC, respectively. The transcript level of HERV-K(HML-2) elements was not influenced. Transcription of HERV-W, ERV9 and HERV-K(HML-2) taxa was further quantified in postmortem brain samples of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and a healthy control group with regard to their medication. Patients with schizophrenia showed a significantly higher HERV-W transcription associated with VPA treatment. However in case of ERV9, enhanced transcript levels could not be explained solely by VPA treatment, since a slight increase was also found in untreated patients compared to healthy controls. HERV-K(HML-2) elements appeared to be upregulated in some patients with bipolar disorders independent from medication. In conclusion, these results suggest that antipsychotic medication may contribute to increased expression of distinct HERV taxa in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases.
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