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The oldest retroviruses are found in human DNA

20 April 2016, 09:00

Geneticists have identified in the DNA of human retroviruses, which presumably came to more than a million years ago by our ancestors. Retroviruses called a fairly broad family of viruses that infect mainly vertebrates, the best known and studied today by the representative retrovirus is HIV

According to scientists, this discovery will help find out what sick old people like treated, perhaps this knowledge will help in the development of treatments for HIV and other retroviruses .

The human genome was revealed more than 10 fragments of retroviruses, as well as fully preserved in its original form of the virus genome. Experts have noted that they can "pull" the ancient human DNA from the virus and make it capable of infecting agent. Dzhon Koffin, a member of the research team, explained that the experiment is extremely interesting for the scientific community, as it will allow to study the "behavior" of viruses in ancient times, before the advent of modern man.  

Endogenous retroviruses are able to penetrate into the DNA and modify it, which causes a variety of gene mutations as harmless and pose a threat to life. In the human genome showed about 8% of the genes of endogenous retroviruses, they are in non-coding DNA, i.e., in the part where no "instructions" to produce proteins.

Dr. Coffin and his colleagues made a comparison and analysis of the structure of DNA from more than 2 million people living in different countries. It is worth noting that the researchers also studied the African population, whose ancestors had not interbred with Neanderthal or Denisovskoe people. Research helped establish that human DNA contains a much larger amount of residues of retroviruses than expected.

By comparing the genomes of different people, the researchers discovered that as a result of restrovirusy that have separate representatives of mankind. Scientists do not expect the same results - the number of retroviruses was quite a large group Coffin found only 20 endogenous retroviruses, and one that was completely preserved the virus, others were present in the DNA fragments only.

According to fragmentary parts of the virus that are quite badly damaged and include many repetitions, the experts can not explain how to behave these viruses, penetrating into the human body and what were the consequences.

The revealed complete retrovirus is necessary to divide the components - the genes necessary for the synthesis of proteins in the envelope, inserting the DNA into cells, "host" and production of multiple copies.

According to the research team identified a retrovirus today is the second that is fully present in our DNA (the first - K113 provirus, which is in the DNA of 1/4 of the world's population).

Dzhon Koffin in a statement said that to understand the past, perhaps to build a future, which is why the discovery is of great importance to science and would allow deeper into disease processes and treatment taking place, as well as more than a million years ago will help to improve the treatment of advanced retroviral infections (HIV, cancer neoplasms of the hematopoietic or lymphoid tissue, etc.).

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