Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 65, Issue 21, pp 3348–3365

Endogenous retroviruses

Evolution of human endogenous retroviral sequences: a conceptual account
  • V. Blikstad
  • F. Benachenhou
  • G. O. Sperber
  • J. Blomberg
Multi-author Review

DOI: 10.1007/s00018-008-8495-2

Cite this article as:
Blikstad, V., Benachenhou, F., Sperber, G.O. et al. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2008) 65: 3348. doi:10.1007/s00018-008-8495-2

Abstract.

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) most likely are remnants of ancient retroviral infections. ERVs preserve functions of exogenous retroviruses to a varying extent, and can be parasites, symbionts or more or less neutral genetic ‘junk’.Their evolution has two facets, pre- and post-endogenization. Although the two are not clearly separated, the first pertains to retroviral evolution in general and the second to the fate of repetitive DNA and the evolution of the host organism and its genome. The study of ERVs provides much material for the understanding of retroviral evolution. This sequence archive reflects the history of successes and shortcomings of antiviral resistance, but also of strategic evolutionary decisions regarding genome organization and new gene acquisition. This review discusses retroviral evolution illustrated through HERVs, bioinformatic prerequisites for ERV studies, the endogenization process and HERV evolution post-endogenization, including relation to disease. (Part of a Multi-author Review)

Keywords.

Endogenous retrovirusevolutionlateral transfervirulencevertebrate genomebioinformaticssequence recognition

Copyright information

© Birkhaueser 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Blikstad
    • 1
  • F. Benachenhou
    • 1
  • G. O. Sperber
    • 2
  • J. Blomberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Virology, Department of Medical SciencesUppsala University, Academic HospitalUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Neuroscience, PhysiologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden