Activation of endogenous retroviruses during brain development causes an inflammatory response

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T1 - Activation of endogenous retroviruses during brain development causes an inflammatory response

AU - Jönsson, Marie E

AU - Garza, Raquel

AU - Sharma, Yogita

AU - Petri, Rebecca

AU - Södersten, Erik

AU - Johansson, Jenny G

AU - Johansson, Pia A

AU - Atacho, Diahann Am

AU - Pircs, Karolina

AU - Madsen, Sofia

AU - Yudovich, David

AU - Ramakrishnan, Ramprasad

AU - Holmberg, Johan

AU - Larsson, Jonas

AU - Jern, Patric

AU - Jakobsson, Johan

N1 - © 2021 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 licens.

PY - 2021

Y1 - 2021

N2 - Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) make up a large fraction of mammalian genomes and are thought to contribute to human disease, including brain disorders. In the brain, aberrant activation of ERVs is a potential trigger for an inflammatory response, but mechanistic insight into this phenomenon remains lacking. Using CRISPR/Cas9-based gene disruption of the epigenetic co-repressor protein Trim28, we found a dynamic H3K9me3-dependent regulation of ERVs in proliferating neural progenitor cells (NPCs), but not in adult neurons. In vivo deletion of Trim28 in cortical NPCs during mouse brain development resulted in viable offspring expressing high levels of ERVs in excitatory neurons in the adult brain. Neuronal ERV expression was linked to activated microglia and the presence of ERV-derived proteins in aggregate-like structures. This study demonstrates that brain development is a critical period for the silencing of ERVs and provides causal in vivo evidence demonstrating that transcriptional activation of ERV in neurons results in an inflammatory response.

AB - Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) make up a large fraction of mammalian genomes and are thought to contribute to human disease, including brain disorders. In the brain, aberrant activation of ERVs is a potential trigger for an inflammatory response, but mechanistic insight into this phenomenon remains lacking. Using CRISPR/Cas9-based gene disruption of the epigenetic co-repressor protein Trim28, we found a dynamic H3K9me3-dependent regulation of ERVs in proliferating neural progenitor cells (NPCs), but not in adult neurons. In vivo deletion of Trim28 in cortical NPCs during mouse brain development resulted in viable offspring expressing high levels of ERVs in excitatory neurons in the adult brain. Neuronal ERV expression was linked to activated microglia and the presence of ERV-derived proteins in aggregate-like structures. This study demonstrates that brain development is a critical period for the silencing of ERVs and provides causal in vivo evidence demonstrating that transcriptional activation of ERV in neurons results in an inflammatory response.

U2 - 10.15252/embj.2020106423

DO - 10.15252/embj.2020106423

M3 - Article

C2 - 33644903

VL - 40

SP - e106423

JO - EMBO Journal

JF - EMBO Journal

SN - 1460-2075

IS - 9

ER -