Comparative gene expression profiling of pig‐derived iPSC‐like cells: Effects of induced pluripotency on expression of porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV)

Background Porcine induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) offer an alternative strategy in xenotransplantation (XTx). As human endogenous retroviruses (HERV), particularly HERV‐K, are highly expressed in natural human stem cells, we compared the expression of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) and retrotransposon LINE‐1 (L1) open reading frames 1 and 2 (pORF1 and pORF2) in different piPSC‐like cell lines with their progenitors (porcine fetal fibroblasts, pFF). Methods Cells reprogrammed via Sleeping Beauty‐transposed transcription factors were cultured and analyzed on a custom‐designed microarray representing the reference pig genome. Data were complemented by qRT‐PCR and reverse transcriptase (RT) assay. Results The expression profiles revealed that 8515 of 26 967 targets were differentially expressed. A total of 4443 targets showed log2 expression ratio >1, and 4072 targets showed log2 expression ratio less than −1 with 0.05 P‐value threshold. Approximately ten percent of the targets showed highly significant expression ratios with log2 ≥4 or ≤−4. Besides this general switch in cellular gene expression that was accompanied by an altered morphology, expression of both PERV and L1 pORF1/pORF2 was significantly enhanced. piPSC‐like cells revealed a 10‐fold to 100‐fold higher transcription of the viral PERV‐A and PERV‐B envelope genes (env), viral protease/polymerase (prt/pol), and L1 elements. No functional retrovirus could be detected under these conditions. Conclusion Epigenetic reprogramming has functional impact on retrotransposons. Thus, the induction of pig‐derived pluripotent cells influences their PERV expression profile. Data emphasize the necessity to focus on animals, which show non‐functional endogenous viral background to ensure virological safety.



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