Multiple groups of endogenous epsilon-like retroviruses conserved across primates
Brown, Katherine and Emes, Richard D. and Tarlinton, Rachael E. (2014) Multiple groups of endogenous epsilon-like retroviruses conserved across primates. Journal of Virology, 88 (21). pp. 12464-12471. ISSN 0022-538X
Official URL: http://jvi.asm.org/content/88/21/12464
Several types of cancer in fish are caused by retroviruses, including those responsible for major outbreaks of disease, such as walleye dermal sarcoma virus and salmon swim bladder sarcoma virus. These viruses form a phylogenetic group often described as the epsilonretrovirus genus. Epsilon-like retroviruses have become endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) on several occasions, integrating into germ line cells to become part of the host genome, and sections of fish and amphibian genomes are derived from epsilon-like retroviruses. However, epsilon-like ERVs have been identified in very few mammals. We have developed a pipeline to screen full genomes for ERVs, and using this pipeline, we have located over 800 endogenous epsilon-like ERV fragments in primate genomes. Genomes from 32 species of mammals and birds were screened, and epsilon-like ERV fragments were found in all primate and tree shrew genomes but no others. These viruses appear to have entered the genome of a common ancestor of Old and New World monkeys between 42 million and 65 million years ago. Based on these results, there is an ancient evolutionary relationship between epsilon-like retroviruses and primates. Clearly, these viruses had the potential to infect the ancestors of primates and were at some point a common pathogen in these hosts. Therefore, this result raises questions about the potential of epsilonretroviruses to infect humans and other primates and about the evolutionary history of these retroviruses.
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