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Research Article

Endogenous Viral Elements in Animal Genomes

  • Published: November 18, 2010
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001191

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Extensive viral/human protein homology at the pentapeptide level

Posted by ChrisCarter on 19 Nov 2010 at 18:00 GMT

This is a key paper with major implications. Hundreds of viruses appear to have infiltrated the human genome. The important consequence of this is that the proteins of today's viruses resemble our own. Numerous BLASTs of translated viral DNA vs. the human proteome are shown at this site named Pandora's box for obvious reasons http://www.polygenicpathw... . Small contiguous amino acid stretches of 5 or more amino acids within human proteins exactly match those in the current virome (Vatches = viral matches). Upon infection these viral proteins are likely to seed havoc within the host's protein networks, acting as dummy ligands, decoy receptors or by interactome interference. This has major implications for understanding how viruses contribute to disease and several examples are shown. For example it would appear that such viral insertions, repeated over evolutionary time, are responsible for the creation of gene families. HSV-1 and HSV-2 express proteins that are homologous to many kinases, and the cytomegalovirus to many chemokine receptors.

The viruses implicated as risk factors in Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease all express proteins that are homologous to hundreds of susceptibility gene products in these diseases. This suggests that genes and risk factors act together, and that each may be a risk factor precisely because of such matches. The viral/human DNA homology also suggests that some gene association studies, using blood samples, may have been tracking infection as well as identifying susceptibility genes.

Some of these observations are available at NaturePrecedings http://precedings.nature....



No competing interests declared.