Research Topic

Host Immune Responses to Retroviral Infections

About this Research Topic

Retroviruses integrate their reverse-transcribed genome into host chromosomes as proviruses and thus are one of the greatest threats to the genetic integrity of all cellular organisms. Once integrated into germ-line cells, endogenous retroviruses become an inseparable component of host genetic material and their expression products induce central tolerance, compromising immune recognition of exogenously invading viruses. Aberrant expression of endogenous retroviruses in cancer cells may facilitate anti-cancer immunity, but breakage of immune tolerance to endogenous retroviruses can cause "autoimmune" responses and related pathology.

In this Research Topic, we provide a place for active discussion on a wider area of host responses to retroviral gene products including, but not limited to, intracellular recognition, innate immune responses, T-cell and antibody responses, and their genetic control, the role of endogenous retroviruses in cancer immunity and autoimmunity, and vaccine development against retrovirus-induced diseases. Retroviruses of all host species including birds, rodents, non-human primates, and humans are discussed.


Despite clear identification of innate receptors that recognize retrovirus invasion into host cells and T- and B-cell epitopes within retroviral gene products in animal models, the long-disputed possible involvement of endogenous retroviruses in the etiopathogenesis of human inflammatory and autoimmune diseases has not reached widely accepted conclusions. On the other hand, the possible role of endogenous retroviruses in cancer immunity is started to be thrown into the limelight through the integration of bioinformatic approaches.

Our goal is to build bridges between cellular biologists who work on innate immune responses, immunologists and immunogenetics who are experts on the genetic control of T- and B-cell responses, clinical immunologists working on chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer immunologists, and vaccinologists who are developing antiretroviral and cancer vaccines to share a common understanding on historic but still reproducible achievements obtained with animal models and updated knowledge on the induction of inflammatory responses and genome-wide expression patterns of endogenous retroviruses.

We hope that through the integration of the above information, we will eventually attain more focused approaches to eventually verify the possible role of endogenous retroviruses in human inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and cancers.


Original research papers and comprehensive review papers are welcome. Retroviruses, both exogenous and endogenous, of any animal species, including insects, birds, rodents, non-human primates, and humans can be discussed in the context of immunity and inflammation. The editors may assign historic review papers to provide especially young readers a concise and proper understanding of past achievements that are still reproducible and consist bases of future research. Papers describing novel approaches including bioinformatic analyses as well as those providing clinical viewpoints are also welcome.


Keywords: Retrovirus, Endogenous Retroviruses, Innate Immunity, T-cell Responses, Antibody Responses, Genetic Factors, Vaccine Development, Autoimmunity


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Retroviruses integrate their reverse-transcribed genome into host chromosomes as proviruses and thus are one of the greatest threats to the genetic integrity of all cellular organisms. Once integrated into germ-line cells, endogenous retroviruses become an inseparable component of host genetic material and their expression products induce central tolerance, compromising immune recognition of exogenously invading viruses. Aberrant expression of endogenous retroviruses in cancer cells may facilitate anti-cancer immunity, but breakage of immune tolerance to endogenous retroviruses can cause "autoimmune" responses and related pathology.

In this Research Topic, we provide a place for active discussion on a wider area of host responses to retroviral gene products including, but not limited to, intracellular recognition, innate immune responses, T-cell and antibody responses, and their genetic control, the role of endogenous retroviruses in cancer immunity and autoimmunity, and vaccine development against retrovirus-induced diseases. Retroviruses of all host species including birds, rodents, non-human primates, and humans are discussed.


Despite clear identification of innate receptors that recognize retrovirus invasion into host cells and T- and B-cell epitopes within retroviral gene products in animal models, the long-disputed possible involvement of endogenous retroviruses in the etiopathogenesis of human inflammatory and autoimmune diseases has not reached widely accepted conclusions. On the other hand, the possible role of endogenous retroviruses in cancer immunity is started to be thrown into the limelight through the integration of bioinformatic approaches.

Our goal is to build bridges between cellular biologists who work on innate immune responses, immunologists and immunogenetics who are experts on the genetic control of T- and B-cell responses, clinical immunologists working on chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer immunologists, and vaccinologists who are developing antiretroviral and cancer vaccines to share a common understanding on historic but still reproducible achievements obtained with animal models and updated knowledge on the induction of inflammatory responses and genome-wide expression patterns of endogenous retroviruses.

We hope that through the integration of the above information, we will eventually attain more focused approaches to eventually verify the possible role of endogenous retroviruses in human inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and cancers.


Original research papers and comprehensive review papers are welcome. Retroviruses, both exogenous and endogenous, of any animal species, including insects, birds, rodents, non-human primates, and humans can be discussed in the context of immunity and inflammation. The editors may assign historic review papers to provide especially young readers a concise and proper understanding of past achievements that are still reproducible and consist bases of future research. Papers describing novel approaches including bioinformatic analyses as well as those providing clinical viewpoints are also welcome.


Keywords: Retrovirus, Endogenous Retroviruses, Innate Immunity, T-cell Responses, Antibody Responses, Genetic Factors, Vaccine Development, Autoimmunity


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
25 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
25 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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