Brattås PL, Jönsson ME, Fasching L, Nelander Wahlestedt J, Shahsavani M, Falk R, Falk A, Jern P, Parmar M, Jakobsson J
Cell Reports 18 (1) 1-11 [2017-01-03; online 2017-01-05]
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which make up 8% of the human genome, have been proposed to participate in the control of gene regulatory networks. In this study, we find a region- and developmental stage-specific expression pattern of ERVs in the developing human brain, which is linked to a transcriptional network based on ERVs. We demonstrate that almost 10,000, primarily primate-specific, ERVs act as docking platforms for the co-repressor protein TRIM28 in human neural progenitor cells, which results in the establishment of local heterochromatin. Thereby, TRIM28 represses ERVs and consequently regulates the expression of neighboring genes. These results uncover a gene regulatory network based on ERVs that participates in control of gene expression of protein-coding transcripts important for brain development.