Source: Ancient Code
by Ivan, October 27th 2016
According to a new study, eight percent of our DNA is ALIEN. In fact, it is made up of NON-HUMAN, viral fragments. The new study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The recent study revealed that there is literally non-human DNA residing in modern humans' genome. This study comes after a froup of researchers from Tufts and the University of Michigan Medical School examined 2,500 people.
Experts discovered that our DNA is less human and that nineteen pieces of Ancient Viral DNA exist within our own genome.
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Most strikingly, experts discovered the full genetic mockup for an entire virus within 2 percent of the people they examined. According to sciencedaily.com, whether or not the virus can be replicated or reproduced, isn't yet known. But other studies of ancient virus DNA have shown it can affect the humans who carry it.
ScienceDaily reports that the study offers new insight on human endogenous retroviruses. HERV's are actually antique diseases which possess eerily similar characteristics to human immunodeficiency virus, the precursor to AIDS.
Experts believe that this 'Viral DNA0 has been passed down through thousands of generations of human beings. The study's authors are still unsure whether the ancient strains of DNA could cause infections.
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"This one looks like it is capable of making infectious virus, which would be very exciting if true, as it would allow us to study a viral epidemic that took place long ago," says senior author and virologist John Coffin, Ph.D. of the Tufts University School of Medicine. "This research provides important information necessary for understanding how retroviruses and humans have evolved together in relatively recent times."
"Many studies have tried to link these endogenous viral elements to cancer and other diseases, but a major difficulty has been that we haven't actually found all of them yet," says co-first author Zachary H. Williams, a Ph.D. student at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in Boston. "A lot of the most interesting elements are only found in a small percentage of people, which means you have to screen a large number of people to find them."
"This is a thrilling discovery," says co-first author Julia Wildschutte, Ph.D., who began the work as a Ph.D. student in Coffin's lab at Tufts. "It will open up many doors to research. What's more, we have confirmed in this paper that we can use genomic data from multiple individuals compared to the reference human genome to detect new HERVs. But this has also shown us that some people carry insertions that we can't map back to the reference."
Excerpts from Study:
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have contributed to more than 8% of the human genome. The majority of these elements lack function due to accumulated mutations or internal recombination resulting in a solitary (solo) LTR, although members of one group of human ERVs (HERVs), HERV-K, were recently active with members that remain nearly intact, a subset of which is present as insertionally polymorphic loci that include approximately full-length (2-LTR) and solo-LTR alleles in addition to the unoccupied site. Several 2-LTR insertions have intact reading frames in some or all genes that are expressed as functional proteins. These properties reflect the activity of HERV-K and suggest the existence of additional unique loci within humans. We sought to determine the extent to which other polymorphic insertions are present in humans, using sequenced genomes from the 1000 Genomes Project and a subset of the Human Genome Diversity Project panel. We report analysis of a total of 36 nonreference polymorphic HERV-K proviruses, including 19 newly reported loci, with insertion frequencies ranging from <0.0005 to >0.75 that varied by population. Targeted screening of individual loci identified three new unfixed 2-LTR proviruses within our set, including an intact provirus present at Xq21.33 in some individuals, with the potential for retained infectivity.
During a retrovirus infection, a DNA copy of the viral RNA genome is permanently integrated into the nuclear DNA of the host cell as a provirus. The provirus is flanked by short target site duplications (TSDs), and consists of an internal region encoding the genes for replication that is flanked by identical LTRs. Infection of cells contributing to the germ line may result in a provirus that is transmitted to progeny as an endogenous retrovirus (ERV), and may reach population fixation (1). Indeed, more than 8% of the human genome is recognizably of retroviral origin (2). The majority of human ERVs (HERVs) represent ancient events and lack function due to accumulated mutations or deletions, or from recombination leading to the formation of a solitary (solo) LTR; however, several HERVs have been coopted for physiological functions to the host (3).
The HERV-K (HML-2) proviruses (4–9), so-named for their use of a Lys tRNA primer and similarity to the mouse mammary tumor virus (human MMTV like) (10), represent an exception to the antiquity of most HERVs. HML-2 has contributed to at least 120 human-specific insertions, and population-based surveys indicate as many as 15 unfixed sites, including 11 loci with more or less full-length proviruses (5, 6, 8, 9). To distinguish the latter from recombinant solo-LTRs, we refer to these elements as "2-LTR" insertions throughout this study. The majority of these insertions are estimated to have occurred within the past ∼2 My, the youngest after the appearance of anatomically modern humans (4, 8, 11). Population modeling has implied a relatively constant rate of HML-2 accumulation since the Homo-Pan divergence (5, 12, 13). All known insertionally polymorphic HML- 2 proviruses have signatures of purifying selection, implying ongoing exogenous replication, and retain one or more ORFs (8, 13–15). HML-2 expression has been observed in tumorderived tissues as well as normal placenta in the form of RNAs, proteins, and noninfectious retrovirus-like particles (3, 16–19). These unique properties raise the possibility that some HML-2 group members are still capable of replication by exogenous transmission from rare intact proviruses, from the generation of infectious recombinants via copackaged viral RNAs, or from rare viruses still in circulation in some populations. A naturally occurring infectious provirus has yet to be observed, although the well-studied "K113" provirus, which is not in the GRCh37 (hg19) reference genome but maps to chr19:21,841,544, has intact ORFs (9) and engineered recombinant HML-2 proviruses are infectious in cell types, including human cells (20, 21). The goal of this study was to enhance our understanding of such elements by identifying and characterizing additional polymorphic HML-2 insertions in the population.
Continue Reading -- Reference: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/16/E2326.full.pdf
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