I’ve got to admit. This shocked me. Scientists at UT Arlington have discovered that a significant portion of human genetic material can be traced to viral insertion. To be poetic about it, humans might be 8% virus!
This is significant on several levels. It might have significant implications for the study of Schizophrenia and some mood disorders.
“These data yield a testable hypothesis for the alleged, but still controversial, causative association of BDV infection with schizophrenia and mood disorders,” Feschotte said.
Not only that, but virologists everywhere have an important new bit of data to chew on. Until now, it was thought that only retroviruses caused endogenization.
The assimilation of viral sequences into the host genome is a process referred to as endogenization. This occurs when viral DNA integrates into a chromosome of reproductive cells and is subsequently passed from parent to offspring. Until now, retroviruses were the only viruses known to generate such endogenous copies in vertebrates.
But the genetic material found in humans (and other animals) comes from a bornavirus. This is significant because this particular kind of virus affects only neurons, and its entire life cycle takes place within the cell nucleus. This makes it a perfect candidate in the search for causes of mental disorders.
University of Texas at Arlington (2010, January 8). Evolutionary surprise: Eight percent of human genetic material comes from a virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100107103621.htm