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J Virol. 1998 Apr;72(4):3442-5.

Physiological knockout of the envelope gene of the single-copy ERV-3 human endogenous retrovirus in a fraction of the Caucasian population.

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  • 1Unité des Rétrovirus Endogènes et Eléments Retroïdes des Eucaryotes Supérieurs, CNRS UMR 1573, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.


ERV-3 is an evolutionarily conserved single-copy human endogenous retrovirus with a coding envelope gene potentially involved in important placental functions. We have investigated the sequence variability of this gene among 150 unrelated Caucasian individuals and found eight polymorphic sites. One of them corresponds to the introduction of a stop codon resulting in the production of a severely truncated ERV-3 envelope protein lacking both the fusion peptide and the immunosuppressive domain of the protein. The stop codon is observed in a homozygous state in approximately 1% of Caucasian individuals without evidence for counterselection, thus precluding the involvement of any essential function of the gene in placental implantation and development. This natural knockout provides a mean to investigate other potential roles for this otherwise highly conserved gene.

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