Multiple human endogenous retrovirus (HERV-K) loci with gag open reading frames in the human genome

Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1997;78(1):1-5. doi: 10.1159/000134614.


Human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K is present in 25-30 copies per haploid human genome. At least one of these loci is capable of producing full-length Gag protein, high amounts of which have been detected in germ cell tumors and derived cell lines. The latter display HERV-K Gag-encoded retroviral particles. Here, we employed the protein truncation test (PTT) in combination with a monochromosomal hybrid mapping panel to identify the human chromosomes harboring HERV-K gag genes with an open reading frame for Gag protein. Eight human chromosomes were found to contain intact HERV-K gag genes. PTT results were corroborated by partial sequencing of subregions from different HERV-K gag genes. The high number of HERV-K Gag open reading frames supports the idea of retroviral sequences retaining a biological benefit in the human genome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry
  • Genes, gag*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Hybrid Cells
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Open Reading Frames*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Retroviridae / genetics*
  • Rodentia
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA