Citation: Xiulin Wu, Qiujin Yan, Lianzhong Liu, Xing Xue, Wei Yao, Xuhang Li, Wenshi Li, Shuang Ding, Yaru Xia, Dongyan Zhang, Fan Zhu. Domesticated HERV-W env contributes to the activation of the small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ type 2 channels via decreased 5-HT4 receptor in recent-onset schizophrenia .VIROLOGICA SINICA, 2023, 38(1) : 9-22.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virs.2022.08.005

Domesticated HERV-W env contributes to the activation of the small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ type 2 channels via decreased 5-HT4 receptor in recent-onset schizophrenia

  • The human endogenous retroviruses type W family envelope (HERV-W env) gene is located on chromosome 7q21-22. Our previous studies show that HERV-W env is elevated in schizophrenia and HERV-W env can increase calcium influx. Additionally, the 5-HTergic system and particularly 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors play a prominent role in the pathogenesis and treatment of schizophrenia. 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 (5-HT4R) agonist can block calcium channels. However, the underlying relationship between HERV-W env and 5-HT4R in the etiology of schizophrenia has not been revealed. Here, we used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect the concentration of HERV-W env and 5-HT4R in the plasma of patients with schizophrenia and we found that there were decreased levels of 5-HT4R and a negative correlation between 5-HT4R and HERV-W env in schizophrenia. Overexpression of HERV-W env decreased the transcription and protein levels of 5-HT4R but increased small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ type 2 channels (SK2) expression levels. Further studies revealed that HERV-W env could interact with 5-HT4R. Additionally, luciferase assay showed that an essential region (-364 to -176 from the transcription start site) in the SK2 promoter was required for HERV-W env-induced SK2 expression. Importantly, 5-HT4R participated in the regulation of SK2 expression and promoter activity. Electrophysiological recordings suggested that HERV-W env could increase SK2 channel currents and the increase of SK2 currents was inhibited by 5-HT4R. In conclusion, HERV-W env could activate SK2 channels via decreased 5-HT4R, which might exhibit a novel mechanism for HERV-W env to influence neuronal activity in schizophrenia.

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    Domesticated HERV-W env contributes to the activation of the small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ type 2 channels via decreased 5-HT4 receptor in recent-onset schizophrenia

      Corresponding author: Fan Zhu, fanzhu@whu.edu.cn,zhufan@hotmail.com
    • a. State Key Laboratory of Virology and Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China;
    • b. Wuhan Mental Health Center, Wuhan, 430071, China;
    • c. Hubei Province Key Laboratory of Allergy & Immunology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China

    Abstract: The human endogenous retroviruses type W family envelope (HERV-W env) gene is located on chromosome 7q21-22. Our previous studies show that HERV-W env is elevated in schizophrenia and HERV-W env can increase calcium influx. Additionally, the 5-HTergic system and particularly 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors play a prominent role in the pathogenesis and treatment of schizophrenia. 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 4 (5-HT4R) agonist can block calcium channels. However, the underlying relationship between HERV-W env and 5-HT4R in the etiology of schizophrenia has not been revealed. Here, we used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect the concentration of HERV-W env and 5-HT4R in the plasma of patients with schizophrenia and we found that there were decreased levels of 5-HT4R and a negative correlation between 5-HT4R and HERV-W env in schizophrenia. Overexpression of HERV-W env decreased the transcription and protein levels of 5-HT4R but increased small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ type 2 channels (SK2) expression levels. Further studies revealed that HERV-W env could interact with 5-HT4R. Additionally, luciferase assay showed that an essential region (-364 to -176 from the transcription start site) in the SK2 promoter was required for HERV-W env-induced SK2 expression. Importantly, 5-HT4R participated in the regulation of SK2 expression and promoter activity. Electrophysiological recordings suggested that HERV-W env could increase SK2 channel currents and the increase of SK2 currents was inhibited by 5-HT4R. In conclusion, HERV-W env could activate SK2 channels via decreased 5-HT4R, which might exhibit a novel mechanism for HERV-W env to influence neuronal activity in schizophrenia.

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