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Virology. 1995 Aug 20;211(2):589-92.

Abundance of an endogenous retroviral envelope protein in placental trophoblasts suggests a biological function.

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Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, United Kingdom.


To investigate the hypothesis that the human endogenous sequence ERV-3 has a function, we have cloned and expressed the transmembrane region of its envelope gene and raised specific antibodies to the fusion protein and to a synthetic peptide. These antibodies reacted with a 65-kDa polypeptide which constituted approximately 0.1% of the cellular protein in syncytiotrophoblasts in placenta. The evolutionary conservation and abundant expression of this endogenous retroviral protein in a specific cell type support the concept of a biological function. The similarity of a domain of ERV-3 env to putative immunosuppressive p15E sequences suggests that ERV-3 might form part of the placental immunosuppressive barrier between mother and foetus.

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