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Human endogenous retrovirus K106 (HERV-K106) was infectious after the emergence of anatomically modern humans.

  • Author(s): Jha, Aashish R
  • Nixon, Douglas F
  • Rosenberg, Michael G
  • Martin, Jeffrey N
  • Deeks, Steven G
  • Hudson, Richard R
  • Garrison, Keith E
  • Pillai, Satish K
  • et al.
Abstract

HERV-K113 and HERV-K115 have been considered to be among the youngest HERVs because they are the only known full-length proviruses that are insertionally polymorphic and maintain the open reading frames of their coding genes. However, recent data suggest that HERV-K113 is at least 800,000 years old, and HERV-K115 even older. A systematic study of HERV-K HML2 members to identify HERVs that may have infected the human genome in the more recent evolutionary past is lacking. Therefore, we sought to determine how recently HERVs were exogenous and infectious by examining sequence variation in the long terminal repeat (LTR) regions of all full-length HERV-K loci. We used the traditional method of inter-LTR comparison to analyze all full length HERV-Ks and determined that two insertions, HERV-K106 and HERV-K116 have no differences between their 5' and 3' LTR sequences, suggesting that these insertions were endogenized in the recent evolutionary past. Among these insertions with no sequence differences between their LTR regions, HERV-K106 had the most intact viral sequence structure. Coalescent analysis of HERV-K106 3' LTR sequences representing 51 ethnically diverse individuals suggests that HERV-K106 integrated into the human germ line approximately 150,000 years ago, after the emergence of anatomically modern humans.

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