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evolution, science

Humans are Part Virus?

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.

Fascinating stuff!

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 /releases/2010/01/100107103621.htm



4 thoughts on “Humans are Part Virus?

  1. That’s just cool! It seems that the tree of life is history. Perhaps a network of life would be more appropriate.

    Posted by Darren Wong | January 17, 2010, 12:03 am
  2. Would you be kind enough to supply a facebook link to this entry? Maybe my computer is broken but I don’t see one 😦 Can’t wait to share this with everyone.

    Posted by an earnest reader | January 17, 2010, 2:22 pm
  3. Facebook link? I’m not sure what you mean. The citation at the bottom is an html link to the article about the study. I don’t think the study itself is available online. You’ll have to go through a University Library System like EBSCO.

    Posted by hambydammit | January 17, 2010, 7:07 pm
  4. Check out the Full info about the Virus here

    Posted by RixMaxewell | February 8, 2010, 8:42 pm

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