Beyond the Identification of Transcribed Sequences: Functional and Expression Analysis

9th Annual Workshop, October 28-31, 1999

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy


Towards the understanding of the possible impact of human endogenous retroviruses on evolutionary changes in genome transcription

Eugene D. Sverdlov

Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) likely representing footprints of ancient germ-cell retroviral infections occupy about 1% of the human genome. HERVs can influence genome regulation through expression of retroviral genes, genomic rearrangements following HERV integrations, or through the involvement of HERV LTRs in the regulation of gene expression.

Newly integrated HERVs might change the pattern of gene expression and therefore play a significant role in the evolution and divergence of primates. Comparative analysis of HERVs, HERV LTRs, neighboring genes, and their regulatory interplay in the human and ape genomes will help us to understand the impact of HERVs on the evolution and genome regulation. This report will present the data on:

  1. Relative positions of HERV LTRs and genes on human chromosomes 7, 19, and 21.
  2. The sequence of some individual LTRs' appearance in the primate genomes.
  3. The rate of LTR mutations and evolutionary ages of individual LTRs.
  4. The occurrence of human specific LTR integrations.
  5. The potential of individual LTRs in transcription regulation.

These data as well as the results reported by other authors suggest the evolutionary significance of retroviral invasions in the primate genomes.

The research was partially supported by Russian National Human Genome Project and INTAS 96-1710 grants.

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