Endogenous bornavirus-like nucleoprotein elements (EBLNs) are DNA sequences in vertebrate genomes formed by the retrotransposon-mediated integration of ancient bornavirus sequence. Thus, EBLNs evidence a mechanism of retrotransposon-mediated RNA-to-DNA information flow from environment to animals. Although EBLNs are non-transposable, they share some features with retrotransposons. Here, to test whether hosts control the expression of EBLNs similarly to retrotransposons, we profiled the transcription of all Homo sapiens EBLNs (hsEBLN-1 to hsEBLN-7). We could detect transcription of all hsEBLNs in at least one tissue. Among them, hsEBLN-1 is transcribed almost exclusively in the testis. In most tissues, expression from the hsEBLN-1 locus is silenced epigenetically. Finally, we showed the possibility that hsEBLN-1 integration at this locus affects the expression of a neighboring gene. Our results suggest that hosts regulate the expression of endogenous non-retroviral virus elements similarly to how they regulate the expression of retrotransposons, possibly contributing to new transcripts and regulatory complexity to the human genome. DNA sequences derived from ancient bornaviruses (endogenous bornavirus-like nucleoprotein elements, EBLNs) are present in vertebrate genomes. Sofuku et al. demonstrate that Homo sapiens EBLN-1 (hsEBLN-1) is repressed epigenetically in many tissues. Expression of hsEBLN-1 in a limited, tissue-specific manner suggests a role in regulating neighboring gene expression and genome function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)