ERVs affect brain gene expression

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.491-d

In mammals, endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) provide genomic sequences that can bind to transcription factors that promote transcription of both the ERVs and nearby host genes. In humans, specific developmental stages exhibit repression of ERV transcription. In contrast, cellular genetic networks regulated by proximal ERVs have been identified, suggesting that their expression can be either useful or harmful for the host. To test this idea, Brattås et al. examined ERV transcriptional regulation across stages of human brain development. They found dynamic ERV expression across developmental stages and identified a protein, TRIM28, that silenced transcription of ERVs in early development. These data indicate that selection may be driving evolution to optimize the effects of parasitic genomic elements such as ERVs.

Cell Rep. 18, 1 (2017).

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