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posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 14, @02:25AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the There's-dead-dead-and-there's-mostly-dead dept.

Mammals Carry A Graveyard Of Viruses In Our Dna, And It Could Have A Crucial Purpose:

Huge swaths of our DNA library are made up of non-coding genes that were long regarded as "junk DNA". Recent findings, however, have shown these bits of DNA actually have many purposes in mammals.

Some help form the structure in our DNA molecules so they can be packaged neatly within our cell nuclei while others are involved in gene regulation. Now, researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia have discovered another potential purpose for these non-coding instructions, within the genomes of marsupials.

Some of the gene sequences once considered "junk" are actually fragments of viruses left buried in our DNA from an infection in a long-forgotten ancestor.

Whenever a virus infects you, there's a chance it will leave behind a piece of itself within your DNA, and if this happens in an egg or sperm cell, it will then be passed on through the generations. These are known as endogenous viral elements (EVEs).

In humans, fragments of viral DNA make up around 8 percent of our genome. They can provide a record of viral infections through our evolutionary history, like genetic memory.

"These viral fragments have been retained for a reason," said paleovirologist Emma Harding. "Over millions of years of evolution, we would expect all DNA to change, however, these fossils are preserved and kept intact."

Journal Reference:
Emma F Harding, Grace JH Yan, Peter A White. Viral fossils in marsupial genomes: secret cellular guardians [open], Microbiology Australia (DOI: 10.1071/MA21036)


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:32AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:32AM (#1177597)

    This is very old news - but extremely interesting, so thanks Emma for PhD thesis or whatever to remind us. Perhaps in 10 years of being an Asst Prof with 14 Chinese students you'll figure out that the occurrence of virus DNA in our own DNA can act as a kind of marker for when populations became separated in the ancient past. Sorry for the spoiler - I'll return to my own time-line now where we actually got the flying cars.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @05:31AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @05:31AM (#1177617)

      What are you on about?

      With COVID halting international travel and Scomo siding with the USA on the cold war, there won't be 14 Chinese students left.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:57AM (#1177601)

    Same thing described for humans in 2018:
    "Human Endogenous Retroviruses Are Ancient Acquired Elements Still Shaping Innate Immune Responses"
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6139349/ [nih.gov]

    And the endogenous viruses themselves are known for 50+ years:
    "The discovery of endogenous retroviruses"
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617120/ [nih.gov]

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Tuesday September 14, @05:09AM (3 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 14, @05:09AM (#1177614) Journal

    Giruses and their maverick virus predators [youtube.com]

    Leading to a whole fucking world I knew nothing about.

    Giant Virus [wikipedia.org]

    mavirus [wikipedia.org]

    Pandoravirus [wikipedia.org]

    Medusavirus [wikipedia.org]

    Mimivirus [wikipedia.org]

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @05:59AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @05:59AM (#1177621)

      > Leading to a whole fucking world I knew nothing about.

      Son, just wait til you start making out with girls.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday September 14, @06:15AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 14, @06:15AM (#1177623) Journal

        Hey, grandpa, here have a sit... see, no need to get out nowadays, even I know there are already many apps for that.

        (feckin boomers)

        (large grin)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by Opportunist on Tuesday September 14, @09:19AM

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday September 14, @09:19AM (#1177645)

        I'm waiting for an open source version that I can better tweak to my needs. The models currently on the market all have some serious flaws in their firmware, and, as usual today, upgrading it to a better version by altering it is considered illegal.

        Damn DRM.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @06:55AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @06:55AM (#1177629)

    Could a swore there was an earlier sub of this, by someone else? Do we have to curry favor with the eds now, to get our subs, rather than anyone else's, admitted to the front page? Oh, the nepotism on SN continues!

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @07:51AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @07:51AM (#1177638)

      A Science article getting disproportionate coverage...

      ...checks the genders of the researchers in involved.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday September 14, @10:15AM (5 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday September 14, @10:15AM (#1177651)

    Some of the gene sequences once considered "junk" are actually fragments of viruses left buried in our DNA from an infection in a long-forgotten ancestor.

    some biologist will wonder why every human being on the planet has inactive genes to make cells produce horse dewormer.

    • (Score: 1) by crm114 on Tuesday September 14, @02:33PM

      by crm114 (8238) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 14, @02:33PM (#1177701)
      > some biologist will wonder why every extinct human being on the planet has inactive genes to make cells produce horse dewormer.

      FTFY
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:03PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @03:03PM (#1177709)

      Humans have specialized dewormer cells: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eosinophil [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @08:43PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @08:43PM (#1177855)

        And THIS is why I read the AC-0-karma posts. Thanks, friend - fascinating!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @09:46PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @09:46PM (#1177869)

          And I thought it was because you wanted to see yourself talk.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, @09:38PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, @09:38PM (#1178117)

            And I thought it was because you wanted to see yourself talk.

            Speak for (or to) yourself, you Anonymous Coward!

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