Old origin of a protective endogenous retrovirus (enJSRV) in the Ovis genus.


Université Grenoble Alpes, Université Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, LECA, Grenoble, F-38000, France. [Email]


Sheep, the Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) and its endogenous forms (enJSRVs) are a good model to study long-time relationships between retroviruses and their hosts. Taking advantage of 76 whole genome resequencing data of wild and domestic Ovis, we investigated the evolution of this relationship. An innovative analysis of re-sequencing data allowed characterizing 462 enJSRVs insertion sites (including 435 newly described insertions) in the Ovis genus. We focused our study on endogenous copies inserted in the q13 locus of chromosome 6 (6q13). Those copies are known to confer resistance against exogenous JSRV thanks to alleles bearing a mutation in the gag gene. We characterized (i) the distribution of protective and non-protective alleles across Ovis species and (ii) the copy number variation of the 6q13 locus. Our results challenged the previous hypothesis of fixation and amplification of the protective copies in relation with domestication, and allowed building a new model for the evolution of the 6q13 locus. JSRV would have integrated the 6q13 locus after the Ovis-Capra divergence (5-11 MYA) and before the Ovis diversification (2.4-5 MYA). The protective mutation in the enJSRV 6q13 copy appeared shortly after its insertion and was followed by genomic amplifications, after the divergence between Pachyform lineage on one side and the Argaliform and moufloniform lineages on the other (2.4-5 MYA). Considering the potential selective advantage of the protective mutation, its fixation in both sheep and its closest wild relative Ovis orientalis may be due to natural selection before domestication from O. orientalis populations.

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