Movements of Ancient Human Endogenous Retroviruses Detected in SOX2-Expressing Cells

Kazuaki Monde, Yorifumi Satou, Mizuki Goto, Yoshikazu Uchiyama, Jumpei Ito, Taku Kaitsuka, Hiromi Terasawa, Nami Monde, Shinya Yamaga, Tomoya Matsusako, Fan Yan Wei, Ituro Inoue, Kazuhito Tomizawa, Akira Ono, Takumi Era, Tomohiro Sawa, Yosuke Maeda

研究成果: Article査読

6 被引用数 (Scopus)


Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) occupy approximately 8% of the human genome. HERVs, transcribed in early embryos, are epigenetically silenced in somatic cells, except under pathological conditions. HERV-K is thought to protect embryos from exogenous viral infection. However, uncontrolled HERV-K expression in somatic cells has been implicated in several diseases. Here, we show that SOX2, which plays a key role in maintaining the pluripotency of stem cells, is critical for HERV-K LTR5Hs. HERV-K undergoes retrotransposition within producer cells in the absence of Env expression. Furthermore, we identified new HERV-K integration sites in long-term culture of induced pluripotent stem cells that express SOX2. These results suggest that the strict dependence of HERV-K on SOX2 has allowed HERV-K to protect early embryos during evolution while limiting the potentially harmful effects of HERV-K retrotransposition on host genome integrity in these early embryos. IMPORTANCE Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) account for approximately 8% of the human genome; however, the physiological role of HERV-K remains unknown. This study found that HERV-K LTR5Hs and LTR5B were transactivated by SOX2, which is essential for maintaining and reestablishing pluripotency. HERV-K can undergo retrotransposition within producer cells without env expression, and new integration sites may affect cell proliferation. In induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), genomic impairment due to HERV-K retrotransposition has been identified, but it is a rare event. Considering the retention of SOX2-responsive elements in the HERV-K long terminal repeat (LTR) for over 20 million years, we conclude that HERV-K may play important physiological roles in SOX2-expressing cells.

ジャーナルJournal of virology
出版ステータスPublished - 2022 5月

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • 微生物学
  • 免疫学
  • 昆虫科学
  • ウイルス学


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