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Evaluation of Cynomolgus Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) Endogenous Retrovirus Expression Following Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040158
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immunity
  • Immune Activation
  • Immunity To Infections
  • Immunizations
  • Microbiology
  • Virology
  • Viral Classification
  • Retroviruses
  • Animal Models Of Infection
  • Viral Vaccines
  • Model Organisms
  • Animal Models
  • Macaque
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Gene Expression


Human endogenous retrovirus type K (HERV-K) transcripts are upregulated in the plasma of HIV-infected individuals and have been considered as targets for an HIV vaccine. We evaluated cynomolgus macaque endogenous retrovirus (CyERV) mRNA expression by RT-qPCR in PBMCs isolated from a cohort of animals previously utilized in a live attenuated SIV vaccine trial. CyERV env transcript levels decreased following vaccination (control and vaccine groups) and CyERV env and gag mRNA expression was decreased following acute SIV-infection, whereas during chronic SIV infection, CyERV transcript levels were indistinguishable from baseline. Reduced susceptibility to initial SIV infection, as measured by the number of SIV challenges required for infection, was associated with increased CyERV transcript levels in PBMCs. In vitro analysis revealed that SIV infection of purified CD4+ T-cells did not alter CyERV gene expression. This study represents the first evaluation of ERV expression in cynomolgus macaques following SIV infection, in an effort to assess the utility of cynomolgus macaques as an animal model to evaluate ERVs as a target for an HIV/SIV vaccine. This non-human primate model system does not recapitulate what has been observed to date in the plasma of HIV-infected humans suggesting that further investigation at the cellular level is required to elucidate the impact of HIV/SIV infection on endogenous retrovirus expression.

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