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Laderoute M.P.,Public Health Agency of Canada | Laderoute M.P.,University of Ottawa | Laderoute M.P.,Immune System Management Clinic and Laboratory | Larocque L.J.,Public Health Agency of Canada | And 5 more authors.
Open AIDS Journal

Objective: The goals of the research were to determine if a foamy effect on macrophages was due to human endogenous retrovirus K102 (HERV-K102) replication, and to further address its potential significance in HIV-1 infection. Methods: An RT-PCR HERV-K HML-2 pol method was used to screen the unknown HERV, and isolated bands were sent for sequencing. Confirmation of RNA expression was performed by a real time quantitative PCR (qPCR) pol ddCt method. Rabbit antibodies to Env peptides were used to assess expression by immunohistology and processing of Env by western blots. A qPCR pol ddCt method to ascertain genomic copy number was performed on genomic DNA isolated from plasma comparing HIV-1 exposed seronegative (HESN) commercial sex workers (CSW) to normal controls and contrasted with HIV-1 patients. Results: HERV-K102 expression, particle production and replication were associated with foamy macrophage generation in the cultures of cord blood mononuclear cells under permissive conditions. A five-fold increased HERV-K102 pol genomic copy number was found in the HESN cohort over normal which was not found in HIV-1 positive patients (p=0.0005). Conclusions: This work extends the evidence that HERV-K102 has foamy virus attributes, is replication competent, and is capable of high replication rate in vivo and in vitro. This may be the first characterization of a replication-competent, foamy-like virus of humans. High particle production inferred by increased integration in the HESN cohort over HIV-1 patients raises the issue of the clinical importance of HERV-K102 particle production as an early protective innate immune response against HIV-1 replication. © Laderoute et al. Source

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