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Endogenous retroviruses

Part 2. Genomics

2.3. The Human Genome

Short Specialist Review

  1. Jens Mayer

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047001153X.g203308

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics

How to Cite

Mayer, J. 2005. Endogenous retroviruses. Encyclopedia of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics. 2:2.3:35.

Author Information

  1. University of Saarland, Homburg, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005

Abstract

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are an integral part of vertebrate genomes. ERVs became inherited genomic components by formation of proviruses of exogenous retroviruses in germ cell genomes. Repeated endogenization of diverse exogenous retroviruses and subsequent increase of provirus numbers resulted in a considerable retroviral load in host genomes. For instance, the human and the mouse genome hold 8 and 10%, respectively, of sequences of retroviral origin. Most ERV sequences accumulated numerous nonsense mutations over time, rendering them defective. Nevertheless, ERVs can affect the host genome in various ways. Long terminal repeats influence transcription of nearby cellular genes. ERV proteins protect from exogenous retrovirus infection. Human ERV sequences may be involved in placenta development and in the formation of germ cell tumors. ERVs are therefore important genome components that contributed significantly to the evolution of host genomes.

Keywords:

  • endogenous retrovirus;
  • LTR;
  • provirus;
  • retrovirus;
  • repeat;
  • human genome