Koala Retrovirus Endogenisation in Action

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Abstract

Koala retrovirus (KoRV) is a unique example of a retroviral group ­currently undergoing the process of endogenisation. While endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are ubiquitous elements in vertebrate genomes there is currently little understanding of the process by which they enter, modify and are modified by the organisms whose genomes they colonise. KoRV displays elements of both an endogenous and an infectious exogenous virus. It is variably present in different koala populations and has probably arisen from a recent host species jump from rodents. This review outlines the initial discovery of KoRV, it’s cross species infection potential and the exciting opportunities this virus provides to elucidate missing information on this fundamental process in mammalian evolution