Divergent and dynamic activity of endogenous retroviruses in burn patients and their inflammatory potential

Kang Hoon Lee, HyungChul Rah, Tajia Green, Young Kwan Lee, Debora Lim, Jean Nemzek, Wendy Wahl, David G Greenhalgh, Kiho Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Genes constitute ~. 3% of the human genome, whereas human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) represent ~. 8%. We examined post-burn HERV expression in patients' blood cells, and the inflammatory potentials of the burn-associated HERVs were evaluated. Buffy coat cells, collected at various time points from 11 patients, were screened for the expression of eight HERV families, and we identified their divergent expression profiles depending on patient, HERV, and time point. The population of expressed HERV sequences was patient-specific, suggesting HERVs' inherent genomic polymorphisms and/or differential expression potentials depending on characteristics of patients and courses of injury response. Some HERVs were shared among the patients, while the others were divergent. Interestingly, one burn-associated HERV gag gene from a patient's genome induced IL-6, IL-1β, Ptgs-2, and iNOS. These findings demonstrate that injury stressors initiate divergent HERV responses depending on patient, HERV, and disease course and implicate HERVs as genetic elements contributing to polymorphic injury pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental and Molecular Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Burn patient
  • Divergent injury response
  • HERV polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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