Human Endogenous Retrovirus Type W Envelope from Multiple Sclerosis Demyelinating Lesions Shows Unique Solubility and Antigenic Characteristics

Benjamin Charvet*, Justine Pierquin, Joanna Brunel, Rianne Gorter, Christophe Quétard, Branka Horvat, Sandra Amor, Jacques Portoukalian, Hervé Perron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In multiple sclerosis (MS), human endogenous retrovirus W family (HERV-W) envelope protein, pHERV-W ENV, limits remyelination and induces microglia-mediated neurodegeneration. To better understand its role, we examined the soluble pHERV-W antigen from MS brain lesions detected by specific antibodies. Physico-chemical and antigenic characteristics confirmed differences between pHERV-W ENV and syncytin-1. pHERV-W ENV monomers and trimers remained associated with membranes, while hexamers self-assembled from monomers into a soluble macrostructure involving sulfatides in MS brain. Extracellular hexamers are stabilized by internal hydrophobic bonds and external hydrophilic moieties. HERV-W studies in MS also suggest that this diffusible antigen may correspond to a previously described high-molecular-weight neurotoxic factor secreted by MS B-cells and thus represents a major agonist in MS pathogenesis. Adapted methods are now needed to identify encoding HERV provirus(es) in affected cells DNA. The properties and origin of MS brain pHERV-W ENV soluble antigen will allow a better understanding of the role of HERVs in MS pathogenesis. The present results anyhow pave the way to an accurate detection of the different forms of pHERV-W ENV antigen with appropriate conditions that remained unseen until now.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVirologica Sinica
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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