A previous phylogenetic study suggested that mammalian gammaretroviruses may have originated in bats. Here we report the discovery of RNA transcripts from two putative endogenous gammaretroviruses in frugivorous (Rousettus leschenaultii retrovirus, RlRV) and insectivorous (Megaderma lyra retrovirus, MlRV) bat species.
Both genomes possess a large deletion in pol, indicating that they are defective retroviruses. Phylogenetic analysis places RlRV and MlRV within the diversity of mammalian gammaretroviruses, with the former falling closer to porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) and the latter to Mus dunni endogenous virus (MDEV), koala retrovirus (KoRV), and gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV).
Additional genomic mining suggests that both microbat (Myotis lucifugus) and megabat (Pteropus vampyrus) genomes harbor many copies of endogenous retroviral forms related to RlRV and MlRV.
Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis reveals the presence of three genetically diverse groups of endogenous gammaretroviruses in bat genomes, with M. lucifugus possessing members of all three groups.
Taken together, this study indicates that bats harbor distinct gammaretroviruses and may have played an important role as reservoir hosts during the diversification of mammalian gammaretroviruses.
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