1887

Abstract

An investigation was undertaken of primate gene sequences from a novel endogenous retrovirus family, ERV-W, related to a new human endogenous retrovirus family (HERV-W) that includes multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus (MSRV) sequences identified in particles recovered from monocyte cultures from patients with multiple sclerosis. The gene sequences of the ERV-W family were detected in hominoids and Old World monkeys, but not in New World monkeys, whereas ERV-W long terminal repeat-like elements were detected in all primates (hominoids, Old World monkeys and New World monkeys). Thirty-two gene sequences from hominoids and Old World monkeys showed a high degree of sequence identity to MSRV and other HERV-W sequences. Phylogenetic analysis indicated close relationships of gene sequences across primate species. The analysis suggests that the ERV-W family has evolved independently but in constrained patterns (‘parallel evolution’) in different primate species, including man. The ratio of synonymous to non- synonymous substitutions indicated that negative selective pressure is acting on CHW1-1 from chimpanzee, HBW6-6 from baboon and HWX5 from man, sequences that have no disruption by point mutation or insertions/deletions. Therefore, these gene sequences could be associated with an active provirus in primates. The findings indicate that the ERV-W family has continued to evolve in the course of the primate radiation and may include members with a capacity to influence gene function and possibly cause disease.

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1999-10-01
2020-11-25
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