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Anim Reprod Sci. 2012 Sep;134(1-2):95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2012.08.016. Epub 2012 Aug 11.

Application of next generation sequencing in mammalian embryogenomics: lessons learned from endogenous betaretroviruses of sheep.

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  • 1Center for Reproductive Biology, Department of Animal Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.


Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are present in the genome of all vertebrates and are remnants of ancient exogenous retroviral infections of the host germline transmitted vertically from generation to generation. The sheep genome contains 27 JSRV-related endogenous betaretroviruses (enJSRVs) related to the pathogenic Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) that have been integrating in the host genome for the last 5-7 million years. The exogenous JSRV is a causative agent of a transmissible lung cancer in sheep, and enJSRVs are able to protect the host against JSRV infection. In sheep, the enJSRVs are most abundantly expressed in the uterine epithelia as well as in the conceptus (embryo and associated extraembryonic membranes) trophectoderm. Sixteen of the 27 enJSRV loci contain an envelope (env) gene with an intact open reading frame, and in utero loss-of-function experiments found the enJSRVs Env to be essential for trophoblast outgrowth and conceptus elongation. Collectively, available evidence supports the ideas that genes captured from ancestral retroviruses were pivotal in the acquisition of new, important functions in mammalian evolution and were positively selected for biological roles in genome plasticity, protection of the host against infection of related pathogenic and exogenous retroviruses, and a convergent physiological role in placental morphogenesis and thus mammalian reproduction. The discovery of ERVs in mammals was initially based on molecular cloning discovery techniques and will be boosted forward by next generation sequencing technologies and in silico discovery techniques.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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