[Functional analysis of retroviral endogenous inserts in the human genome evolution]

Bioorg Khim. 2010 Jan-Feb;36(1):38-46. doi: 10.1134/s1068162010010048.
[Article in Russian]


Retroelements, mobile elements produced in DNA by reverse transcription, comprise about 40% of the human genome. A small part of these elements appeared in the genome quite recently after the divergence of humans and chimpanzees had occurred. Evolutionarily young retroelements are represented by the members of four groups, SVA, Alu, L1, and the endogenous HERV-K (HML-2) virus. These retroelements could play a functional role in the course of the molecular evolution of human DNA. We comprehensively studied the contribution of human-specific endogenous viruses (hsERV) to the structural modifications and regulation of the human genome. We found that hsERV presented in 134 copies occupied about 330 000 bp of human DNA. They added to genomic sequences the copies of 50 functional retroviral genes as well as 134 potential promoters and enhancers, 50% of which are located in the regions adjacent to known genes, and 22% in gene introns. At least 67% of these elements are human-specific promoters in vivo. hsERV viruses regulate the activity of known protein-encoding genes by means of RNA interference, function as enhancers, and provide new polyadenylation signals for mRNA.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / genetics*
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Retroelements


  • Retroelements