How to tame an endogenous retrovirus: HERVH and the evolution of human pluripotency


  • C. Römer
  • M. Singh
  • L.D. Hurst
  • Z. Izsvák


  • Current Opinion in Virology


  • Curr Opin Virol 25: 49-58


  • HERVH is one of the most successful endogenous retrovirus in the human genome. Relative to other endogenous retroviruses, slower degradation of HERVH internal sequences indicates their potential relevance for the host. HERVH is transcriptionally active during human preimplantation embryogenesis. In this review, we focus on the role of HERVH in regulating human pluripotency. The HERVH-mediated pluripotency network has been evolved recently in primates. Nevertheless, it became an essential feature of human pluripotency. We discuss how HERVH modulates the human pluripotency network by providing alternative transcription factor binding sites, functioning as a long-range enhancer, and as being a major source for pluripotency specific long non-coding RNAs and chimeric transcripts.