Skip to content


  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Evidence for replication of human endogenous retroviruses type-K (HERV-K) in HIV-1 positive patients

  • 1, 2,
  • 1,
  • 3 and
  • 2
Retrovirology20063 (Suppl 1) :S33

  • Published:


  • Viral Particle
  • Positive Patient
  • Frequent Detection
  • Seropositive Individual
  • Infectious Viral Particle


The infectious capacity of particle-coding human endogenous retrovirus type-K HERV-K(HML-2) virions is still questionable.

Materials and methods

The full-length RNA env gene, necessary for cell-to-cell transmission, was amplified from plasma samples (three time-points) of six HIV-1 seropositive individuals and sequenced in order to track the phylogenetic evolution of HERV-K.


Type-1 and Type-2 HERV-K(HML-2) were co-amplified. Phylogenetic analyses revealed frequent detection of inter and intra-subtype HERV-K(HML-2) recombinant env sequences. Type-1 but not type-2 env sequences were mostly edited at specific sites, originating a unique hypermutated consensus sequence (K111), which cluster in a unique phylogenetic branch. HERV-K sequences less than 98% similar to known proviruses suggest that these proviruses are unfixed. dN/dS ratios < 1 strongly suggested that HERV-K replicated by reinfection, which may explain the finding of putative HERV-K recombinant and hypermutated sequences.


Our data suggest that the HERV-K(HML-2) family code for infectious viral particles. RNA recombination could serve to efficiently remove mutated HERV-K alleles by combining intact parts of different genomes

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA
AIDS Research Program, Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico 00716-2348, USA
Department of Biochemistry, Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico 00716-2348, USA


© Contreras-Galindo et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.