Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 65, Issue 21, pp 3413–3421

Endogenous retroviruses

Biology and evolution of the endogenous koala retrovirus
Multi-author Review

DOI: 10.1007/s00018-008-8499-y

Cite this article as:
Tarlinton, R., Meers, J. & Young, P. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2008) 65: 3413. doi:10.1007/s00018-008-8499-y


Although endogenous retroviruses are ubiquitous features of all mammalian genomes, the process of initial germ line invasion and subsequent inactivation from a pathogenic element has not yet been observed in a wild species. Koala retrovirus (KoRV) provides a unique opportunity to study this process of endogenisation in action as it still appears to be spreading through the koala population. Ongoing expression of the endogenous sequence and consequent high levels of viraemia have been linked to neoplasia and immunosuppression in koalas. This apparently recent invader of the koala genome shares a remarkably close sequence relationship with the pathogenic exogenous Gibbon ape leukaemia virus (GALV), and comparative analyses of KoRV and GALVare helping to shed light on how retroviruses in general adapt to a relatively benign or at least less pathogenic existence within a new host genome. (Part of a Multi-author Review)



Copyright information

© Birkhaueser 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Veterinary Medicine and ScienceUniversity of NottinghamSutton BoningtonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.School of Veterinary SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Molecular & Microbial SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia