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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

 

Viral Fossil Brought Back to Life

`In a controversial study, researchers have resurrected a retrovirus that infected our ancestors millions of years ago and now sits frozen in the human genome. Published online by Genome Research this week, the study may shed new light on the history of these genomic intruders, as well as their role in tumors. Although this particular virus, dubbed Phoenix, is a wimpy one, some argue that resuscitating any ancient virus is inherently risky and that the study should have undergone stricter reviews.

Retroviruses have the ability to make DNA copies of their RNA genomes and incorporate these into the host’s genome. If this happens in a germ cell, the copy can be passed on to future generations. Indeed, the human genome is littered with the remnants of such human endogenous retroviruses [..]’




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