Human endogenous retrovirus group E (HERV-E) elements are stably integrated into the human genome, transmitted vertically in a Mendelian manner, and are endowed with transcriptional activity as alternative promoters or enhancers. Such effects are under the control of the proviral long terminal repeats (LTR) that are organized into three HERV-E phylogenetic subgroups, namely LTR2, LTR2B, and LTR2C. Moreover, HERV-E expression is tissue-specific, and silenced by epigenetic constraints that may be disrupted in cancer, autoimmunity, and human placentation. Interest in HERV-E with regard to these conditions has been stimulated further by concerns regarding the capacity of HERV-E elements to modify the expression of neighboring genes and/or to produce retroviral proteins, including immunosuppressive env
peptides, which in turn may induce (auto)-antibody (Ab) production. Finally, better understanding of HERV-E elements may have clinical applications for prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.
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