Citation Black SG, Arnaud F, Palmarini M, Spencer TE. Endogenous retroviruses in trophoblast differentiation and placental development. Am J Reprod Immunol 2010
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are present in the genome of all vertebrates and originated from infections of the germline of the host by exogenous retroviruses. ERVs have coevolved with their hosts for millions of years and are recognized to contribute to genome plasticity, protect the host against infection of related pathogenic and exogenous retroviruses, and play a vital role in development of the placenta. Consequently, some ERVs have been positively selected and maintained in the host genome throughout evolution. This review will focus on the critical role of ERVs in development of the mammalian placenta and specifically highlight the biological role of sheep JSRV-related endogenous betaretroviruses in conceptus (embryo and associated extraembryonic membranes) development.