Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Phoenix Rising: Scientists Resuscitate A 5 Million-year-old Retrovirus

Date:
October 31, 2006
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
A team of scientists has reconstructed the DNA sequence of a 5-million-year-old retrovirus and shown that it is able to produce infectious particles. The retrovirus -- named Phoenix -- is the ancestor of a large family of mobile DNA elements, some of which may play a role in cancer. The study is the first to generate an infectious retrovirus from a mobile element in the human genome. The findings are reported in Genome Research.

A team of scientists has reconstructed the DNA sequence of a 5-million-year-old retrovirus and shown that it is able to produce infectious particles. The retrovirus--named Phoenix--is the ancestor of a large family of mobile DNA elements, some of which may play a role in cancer. The study, which is the first to generate an infectious retrovirus from a mobile element in the human genome, is considered a breakthrough for the field of retrovirus research. The findings are reported in Genome Research.

"Phoenix became frozen in time after it integrated into the human genome about 5 million years ago," explains Dr. Thierry Heidmann, lead investigator on the project. "In our study, we've recovered this ancestral state and shown that it has the potential for infectivity."

Retroviruses, whose genomes consist of RNA, can create DNA "copies" of the RNA genomes and incorporate them into the genomes of their hosts. Phoenix belongs to a sub-category of retroviruses--known as HERVs (human endogenous retroviruses)--which inserted copies into the human germline millions of years ago. These copies were subsequently passed on from generation to generation. Remnants of HERVs now comprise nearly 8% of the human genome, but most were rendered inactive long ago by mutations.

Heidmann and his colleagues set out to re-activate one family of HERVs, called the HERV-K(HML2) family, an evolutionarily "young" family of retroviral elements. They aligned HERV-K(HML2) elements, determined their consensus sequence, and then constructed a retrovirus--Phoenix--from the consensus sequence by mutating existing HERV-K(HML2) copies.

In addition, the researchers showed that Phoenix could form particles capable of infecting mammalian cells in culture. Infectivity was very low, presumably because host cells have evolved mechanisms to resist uncontrolled virus propagation, as has been repeatedly observed for retroviruses from experimental animals.

"Phoenix has produced some 'genomic offspring' that may be responsible for the synthesis of the retroviral particles that can be observed in some human cancers such as germline tumors and melanomas," says Heidmann. "This work will be helpful in tracking down the role of retroviruses in these human diseases."

The work was conducted by Heidmann's group at the Institut Gustave-Roussy in collaboration with Gérard Pierron from the Institut André Lwoff. Dr. Marie Dewannieux, formerly with Heidmann and now a postdoc at the University College of London, is the first author on the paper. The work was funded by the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), the Institut Gustave Roussy, the Université Paris XI, and the Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer (Equipe Labellisée).

Genome Research (http://www.genome.org) is an international, continuously published, peer-reviewed journal published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Launched in 1995, it is one of the five most highly cited primary research journals in genetics and genomics.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media, located on Long Island, New York. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit http://www.cshlpress.com.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Phoenix Rising: Scientists Resuscitate A 5 Million-year-old Retrovirus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183232.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2006, October 31). Phoenix Rising: Scientists Resuscitate A 5 Million-year-old Retrovirus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183232.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Phoenix Rising: Scientists Resuscitate A 5 Million-year-old Retrovirus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183232.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) — As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins