Monday, March 15, 2010
The endogenous retrovirus
Along with Coyne's explanation of "dead genes", he briefly explains a specific type of dead gene that is present in the human genome: retroviruses. "The human genome contains thousands of such viruses, nearly all of them rendered harmless by mutations. They are the remnants of ancient infections." (69) However, as we know, there is one major retrovirus that has greatly affected some humans today: HIV. Does this mean HIV was present in our ancestors even though, according to Campbell, HIV is referred to as an emerging virus because it was just discovered in the 1980s? Can you find any specific retroviruses that are still around today that were also found in the DNA of our ancestors? What makes retroviruses different from other viruses?