, Volume 65, Issue 21, pp 3422-3432
Date: 27 Sep 2008

Endogenous retroviruses

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Abstract.

Sheep betaretroviruses offer a unique model system to study the complex interaction between retroviruses and their host. Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) is a pathogenic exogenous retrovirus and the causative agent of ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma. The sheep genome contains at least 27 copies of endogenous retroviruses (enJSRVs) highly related to JSRV. enJSRVs have played several roles in the evolution of the domestic sheep as they are able to block the JSRV replication cycle and play a critical role in sheep conceptus development and placental morphogenesis. Available data strongly suggest that some dominant negative enJSRV proviruses (i.e. able to block JSRV replication) have been positively selected during evolution. Interestingly, viruses escaping the transdominant enJSRV loci have recently emerged (less than 200 years ago). Thus, endogenization of these retroviruses may still be occurring today. Therefore, sheep provide an exciting and unique system to study retrovirus-host coevolution. (Part of a Multi-author Review)

F. Arnaud, M. Varela: These authors contributed equally to this article.