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Human endogenous retroviruses K and W (HERV-K, -W) expression in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Grant number: 18/07158-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): May 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry - Molecular Biology
Principal Investigator:Camila Malta Romano
Grantee:Lucas Soares Rodrigues
Home Institution: Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo (IMT). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is characterized by chronic debilitating fatigue, with no defined etiology and difficult diagnose. The disease compromises patients' ability to perform basic daily activities and is accompanied by other symptoms that intensify this disability, such as muscle pain, excessive sleepiness and cognitive problems. Since its discovery, much has been studied regarding to its etiology. Among the options, Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) are included. It is possible they have a role in the pathogenesis of CFS due to their ability to interact with the host genome, either interfering on gene regulation or in the establishment of inflammatory processes. To our knowledge, only two studies have sought to understand the role of HERVs in the pathogenesis of disease, and in one of them, such association is discussed. There are no studies aimed at understanding the transcriptional activity of HERVs in these individuals. Therefore, the objective of this study is to investigate the transcriptional activity of HERVs K and W in individuals with CFS and to compare it with healthy individuals. In addition, because not much is know regarding the gene expression in CFS, we also aim to study the reproducibility of some of the endogenous control genes most used by the scientific community. The idea is to establish which genes would be suitable for gene expression assays in individuals with CFS. Due to the collaboration between the Institute of Tropical Medicine and researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, samples were already collected and sent to our laboratory. Up to 170 samples will be evaluated, 100 from individuals with CFS and 70 from healthy individuals. Real-time PCR assays using Sybr Green methodology will be performed for the K and W HERVs. In addition, four other genes, commonly used for relative quantification assays, will be tested for their reproducibility in individuals with CFS.