- Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) constitute an important component of animal and human genomes and are usually silenced by epigenetic mechanisms in adult cells. Although ERVs were recently reported to be linked to early development, tumorigenesis and autoimmune disease, their impacts on antiviral innate immunity and the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. Here, we provide the first direct evidence of an endogenous retroviral element affecting antiviral innate immunity via its derived antisense long non-coding RNA (lncRNA). We found that an antisense lncRNA, which is called lnc-ALVE1-AS1 and is transcribed from the endogenous avian leukosis virus in chromosome 1 (ALVE1), distinctly inhibited the entry and replication of exogenous retroviruses in chicken embryonic fibroblasts (CEFs). This behaviour is at least in part attributed to the induction of an antiviral innate immune pathway by ALVE1 activation, suggesting that an activated endogenous retroviral element may induce antiviral defence responses via its derived antisense lncRNA. We also found that lnc-ALVE1-AS1 mediated these effects by activating the TLR3 signalling in the cytoplasm. Our results provide novel insights into the antiviral innate immune function of ERVs, suggesting that ERVs may play an important role in antiviral defences and provide new strategies for the development of new vaccines.