Molecular epidemiologic proof that HERVs and other retroelements are involved in autoimmunity or other disorders is complicated by their large numbers in the human genome. As discussed, most HERVs are no longer functional or active because of the accumulation of mutations, frameshifts, and deletions. Detection or quantification of HERV transcripts that may be pathologically involved in a particular autoimmune disease thus is often compromised by the presence in great excess of related, but nonfunctional, RNA. This phenomenon should not deter active work in the field, although it will require development of improved methods to discriminate accurately between closely related RNA transcripts. Development of improved immunologic methods to precisely identify epitopes on autoantigens or rare self-reactive T-cell clones may further implicate HERVs and the other repetitive elements in regulation of the immune system in health and disease. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Colmegna, I., & Garry, R. F. (2006, December). Role of Endogenous Retroviruses in Autoimmune Diseases. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.idc.2006.09.008