Press Release

Retrovirus-Derived RTL9 Plays an Important Role in Innate Antifungal Immunity in the Eutherian Brain

October 20, 2023


Retrotransposon Gag-like (RTL) genes play a variety of essential and important roles in the eutherian placenta and brain. It has recently been demonstrated that RTL5 and RTL6 (also known as sushi-ichi retrotransposon homolog 8 (SIRH8) and SIRH3) are microglial genes that play important roles in the brain’s innate immunity against viruses and bacteria through their removal of double-stranded RNA and lipopolysaccharide, respectively. In this work, we addressed the function of RTL9 (also known as SIRH10). Using knock-in mice that produce RTL9-mCherry fusion protein, we examined RTL9 expression in the brain and its reaction to fungal zymosan. Here, we demonstrate that RTL9 plays an important role, degrading zymosan in the brain. The RTL9 protein is localized in the microglial lysosomes where incorporated zymosan is digested. Furthermore, in Rtl9 knockout mice expressing RTL9ΔC protein lacking the C-terminus retroviral GAG-like region, the zymosan degrading activity was lost. Thus, RTL9 is essentially engaged in this reaction, presumably via its GAG-like region. Together with our previous study, this result highlights the importance of three retrovirus-derived microglial RTL genes as eutherian-specific constituents of the current brain innate immune system: RTL9, RTL5 and RTL6, responding to fungi, viruses and bacteria, respectively.

Journal Article

JOURNALInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences

TITLE:Retrovirus-Derived RTL9 Plays an Important Role in Innate Antifungal Immunity in the Eutherian Brain


Correspondence to

Fumitoshi ISHINO , Emeritus Professor

Department of Epigenetics, 
Medical Research Institute,
Tokyo Medical and Dental University(TMDU)
E-mail: fishino.epgn(at)

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