1887

Abstract

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are widespread in vertebrate genomes. The recent availability of whole eukaryotic genomes has enabled their characterization in many organisms, including (red jungle fowl), the progenitor of the domesticated chicken. Our bioinformatics analysis of a ERV previously designated GGERV20 identified 35 proviruses with complete long terminal repeats (LTRs) and open reading frames (ORFs) in the Genome Reference Consortium Chicken Build 6a, of which 8 showed potential for translation of functional retroviral polyproteins, including the integrase and reverse transcriptase enzymes. No elements were discovered with an gene. Fifteen loci had LTR sequences with 100 % identity, indicative of recent integration. Chicken embryo fibroblast RNA-seq datasets showed reads representing the entire length of the GGERV20 provirus, supporting their potential for expressing viral proteins. To investigate the possibility that GGERV20 elements may not be fixed in the genome, we assessed the integration status of five loci in a meat-type chicken. PCRs targeting a GGERV20 locus on chromosome one (GGERV20) reproducibly amplified both LTRs and the preintegration state, indicating that the bird from which the DNA was sampled was hemizygous at this locus. The four other loci examined only produced the preintegration state amplicons. These results reveal that GGERV20 is not fixed in the population, and taken together with the lack of mutations seen in several provirus LTRs and their transcriptional activity, suggest that GGERV20 retroviruses have recently been and continue to be active in the chicken genome.

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2020-01-09
2020-01-27
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