Volume 6 Supplement 2
Emergence of intracellular genetic parasites from ancient retroviruses
© Ribet et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
Published: 24 September 2009
Endogenous retroviruses are genetic parasites of mammalian genomes. They are « remnants » of ancestral infections by retroviruses that had integrated into the germ line of the host and were then transmitted vertically, in a Mendelian fashion. Studies of several endogenous retrovirus families have led to the identification of functional elements, able to replicate inside the host. Whereas some endogenous retroviruses behave as bona fide retroviruses, with a replicative cycle involving extracellular viral particles, some of them disclose a strictly intracellular amplification cycle with viral particles accumulating in the cytoplasm or in intracellular organelles.
These results led us to propose a scenario that accounts for the generation, during evolution, of very successful intracellular genetic parasites from ancient retroviruses.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.