Preceding the isolation of transcriptionally active HERV-K genes, expression status was examined by RT-PCR and sequence analysis of mRNA from various tissues. In addition to the detection of IDDMK(1,2)22/HERV-K18 expression in peripheral leukocytes, three novel members of the family, which are expressed in multiple tissues, were identified. The novel HERV-K genes (HGMW-approved symbols ERVK4 and ERVK5) were isolated from a BAC library using oligonucleotide probes and assigned by RH mapping to chromosomal regions 3q21-q25.2, 3cen-q13, and 1q21-q23. Although their expression could not be confirmed in any normal tissues by Northern blot analysis, substantial promoter activity of their 5' LTRs was demonstrated in luciferase assays using teratocarcinoma cell lines. Thus, they seem to have the potential to be actively transcribed. The results, combined with those of the expression analysis by RT-PCR and subsequent sequencing of cloned products, also suggest that LTR sequences with subtle base changes might play a role in gene regulation, such as tissue specificity of HERV-K expression.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.