Epub: García-Montojo et al. HERV-W polymorphism in chromosome X is associated with multiple sclerosis risk and with differential expression of MSRV. Retrovirology. 2014;11(1):2.
BACKGROUND: MS is an autoimmune demyelinating disease that occurs more frequently in women than in men. MS Associated Retrovirus (MSRV) is a member of HERV-W, a multicopy human endogenous retroviral family repeatedly implicated in MS pathogenesis. MSRV envelope protein is elevated in the serum of MSers and induces inflammation and demyelination but, in spite of this pathogenic potential, its exact genomic origin and mechanism of generation are unknown. A possible link between the HERV-W copy on chromosome Xq22.3, that contains an almost complete open reading frame, and the gender differential prevalence in MS has been suggested.
RESULTS: MSRV transcription levels were higher in MSers than in controls (U-Mann-Whitney; p = 0.004). Also, they were associated with the clinical forms (Spearman; p = 0.0003) and with the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) (Spearman; p = 0.016). By mapping a 3 kb region in Xq22.3, including the HERV-W locus, we identified three polymorphisms: rs6622139 (T/C), rs6622140 (G/A) and rs1290413 (G/A). After genotyping 3127 individuals (1669 MSers and 1458 controls) from two different Spanish cohorts, we found that in women rs6622139 T/C was associated with MS susceptibility: [chi2; p = 0.004; OR (95% CI) = 0.50 (0.31-0.81)] and severity, since CC women presented lower MSSS scores than CT (U-Mann-Whitney; p = 0.039) or TT patients (U-Mann-Whitney; p = 0.031). Concordantly with the susceptibility conferred in women, rs6622139*T was associated with higher MSRV expression (U-Mann-Whitney; p = 0.003).
CONCLUSIONS: Our present work supports the hypothesis of a direct involvement of HERV-W/MSRV in MS pathogenesis, identifying a genetic marker on chromosome X that could be one of the causes underlying the gender differences in MS.