, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 262-270
Date: 24 Jun 2003

Characterization of two porcine endogenous retrovirus integration loci and variability in pigs

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The pig (Sus scrofa) is a potential organ donor for man but porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) represent an important concern for patients, and identification or engineering of PERV-free pigs suitable for xenotransplantation is a major undertaking. Consequently, studies of variability in pigs for the presence of PERVs at specific loci are a prerequisite. We identified genomic flanking sequences of two PERVs cloned in bacterial artificial chromosomes, a replication-competent PERV-A at locus 1q2.4 and a defective PERV-B at locus 7p1.1–2. PERV-A is embedded in the second repeat of a tandem of eight 190 bp repeats. A short duplicated 4 bp cellular motif, AGAC, was found at each flank of PERV-A and a degenerate 4 bp motif was found for PERV-B. At each locus, the PERV flanks matched expressed sequence tags available in public databases. Primer pairs were designed to amplify either genomic flanks or PERV-genomic junctions. Polymerase chain reaction screening was performed on pigs from 11 distinct Chinese breeds and from the European Large White breed. PERV-B at locus 7p1.1–2 was detected in all animals whereas the presence of PERV-A at locus 1q2.4 was variable. Our results suggest that a genetic selection can be designed to identify animals lacking a potentially active PERV at a specific locus and that Chinese and European pig breeds represent large biodiversity reservoirs to explore. Our results point also to the existence of PERVs that might be fixed in the pig genome, and that might not be eliminated by classical genetic selection.

Accession numbers: Nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank databases under Accession numbers AY160111–AY160114