Endogenous retrovirus (ERV) sequences have been found in all mammals. In vitro and in vivo experiments revealed ERV activation and cross-species infection in several species. Sheep (Ovis aries) are used for various biotechnological purposes; however, they have not yet been comprehensively screened for ERV sequences. Therefore, the aim of the study was to classify the ERV sequences in the ovine genome (OERV) by analyzing the retroviral pro-pol sequences. Three OERV beta families and nine OERV gamma families were revealed. Novel open reading frames (ORF) in the amplified proviral fragment were found in one OERV beta family and two OERV gamma families. Hybrid OERV produced by putative recombination events were not detected. Quantitative analysis of the OERV sequences in the ovine genome revealed no relevant variations in the endogenous retroviral loads of different breeds. Expression analysis of different tissues from fetal and pregnant sheep detected mRNA from both gammaretrovirus families, showing ORF fragments. Thus, the release of retroviruses from sheep cells cannot be excluded.
Animals Base Sequence Endogenous Retroviruses/classification Endogenous Retroviruses/genetics* Molecular Sequence Data Open Reading Frames Phylogeny Sheep/virology*