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define ERV

Posted by fooz on 24 Nov 2008 at 05:16 GMT

Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections of the host germline transmitted vertically from generation to generation

are retroviruses derived from ancient infections of germ cells in humans, mammals and other vertebrates; as such their proviruses are passed on to the next generation and now remain in the genome. Retroviruses are viruses that reverse-transcribe their RNA into DNA for integration into the host's genome. Most retroviruses (such as HIV-1) infect somatic cells, but some can also infect germline cells (cells that make eggs and sperm) and once they have done so and have been transmitted to the next generation, they are termed endogenous. Endogenous retroviruses can persist in the genome of their host for long periods. However, they are generally only infectious for a short time after integration as they acquire 'knockout' mutations during host DNA replication. They can also be partially excised from the genome by a process known as recombinational deletion.