Pluto Bioinformatics

GSE122309: Aging-associated patterns in the expression of human endogenous retroviruses

Bulk RNA sequencing

Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) are relics of ancient retroviral infections in our genome. Most of them have lost their coding capacity, but proviral RNA or protein have been observed in several disease states (e.g. in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and malignancies). However, their clinical significance as well as their mechanisms of action have still remained elusive. As human aging is associated with several biological characteristics of these diseases, we now analyzed the aging-associated expression of the individual proviruses of two HERV families, HERV-K (91 proviruses) and HERV-W (213 proviruses) using genome-wide RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq). RNA was purified from blood cells derived from healthy young individuals (n=7) and from nonagenarians (n=7). The data indicated that in the case of HERV-K (HML-2) 33 proviruses had a detectable expression but in only 3 of those the expression levels were significantly different between the young and old individuals. In the HERV-W family expression was observed in 45 loci and only in one case the young/old difference was significant. However, applying the hierarchical clustering on the HERV expression data resulted in the formation of two distinct clusters, one containing the young individuals and another the nonagenarians. This suggests, that even though the aging-associated differences in the expression levels of individual proviruses are minor, there seems to be some underlying aging-related pattern. These data indicate that aging does not have a strong effect on the expression of individual HERV proviruses, but instead several proviruses are affected moderately, leading to age-dependent expression profiles. SOURCE: Arttu Autio University of Tampere

View this experiment on Pluto Bioinformatics