Coxsackievirus-b4 infection can induce the expression of human endogenous retrovirus w in primary cells

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Human Endogenous Retrovirus W Envelope (HERV-W ENV) mRNA or protein can be found in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and exocrine pancreas of patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Further, previous observations have shown an association between enteroviral infection and development of T1D; specifically, coxsackievirus-B (CV-B) has been detected in the blood and pancreas of patients with T1D. Notably, viruses can activate HERV-W expression. Hence, we evaluated the effect of CV-B4 infection on HERV-W ENV mRNA expression. Primary human pancreatic ductal cells were obtained from five brain-dead donors. In the pancreatic cells of three donors, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level measured using RT-qPCR was upregulated upon CV-B4 infection. The HERV-W ENV protein was detected in the infected cells using the immunoblot assay. In human PBMCs inoculated with CV-B4 or when CV-B4 was incubated with an enhancing serum, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level was higher than the background RNA level. In monocyte-derived macrophages obtained from 5 of 13 donors, the HERV-W ENV mRNA level was higher in cultures inoculated with CV-B4 than in the control. Therefore, CV-B4 can upregulate or induce the transcription of a certain HERV-W ENV copy (or copies) in primary cell cultures, such as monocytes, macrophages, and pancreatic cells.

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