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PLoS One. 2011 May 12;6(5):e19832. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019832.

The first sequenced carnivore genome shows complex host-endogenous retrovirus relationships.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Host-retrovirus interactions influence the genomic landscape and have contributed substantially to mammalian genome evolution. To gain further insights, we analyzed a female boxer (Canis familiaris) genome for complexity and integration pattern of canine endogenous retroviruses (CfERV). Intriguingly, the first such in-depth analysis of a carnivore species identified 407 CfERV proviruses that represent only 0.15% of the dog genome. In comparison, the same detection criteria identified about six times more HERV proviruses in the human genome that has been estimated to contain a total of 8% retroviral DNA including solitary LTRs. These observed differences in man and dog are likely due to different mechanisms to purge, restrict and protect their genomes against retroviruses. A novel group of gammaretrovirus-like CfERV with high similarity to HERV-Fc1 was found to have potential for active retrotransposition and possibly lateral transmissions between dog and human as a result of close interactions during at least 10.000 years. The CfERV integration landscape showed a non-uniform intra- and inter-chromosomal distribution. Like in other species, different densities of ERVs were observed. Some chromosomal regions were essentially devoid of CfERVs whereas other regions had large numbers of integrations in agreement with distinct selective pressures at different loci. Most CfERVs were integrated in antisense orientation within 100 kb from annotated protein-coding genes. This integration pattern provides evidence for selection against CfERVs in sense orientation relative to chromosomal genes. In conclusion, this ERV analysis of the first carnivorous species supports the notion that different mammals interact distinctively with endogenous retroviruses and suggests that retroviral lateral transmissions between dog and human may have occurred.

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