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Human endogenous retroviruses

Arthur M. Krieg
From: Science & Medicine: Volume 4 Number 2: Page 34 (April 1997)

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Abstract: Within the human genome are millions of DNA sequences, of several classes, that have been derived from reverse transcription of RNA. Most are not expressed, but in some, open reading frames have been maintained over evolutionary time. Among these are endogenous retroviruses, which incorporate genes encoding envelope proteins, although they are not infectious. Preventing infection by exogenous retroviruses, suppressing the maternal immune response to the fetus, repairingchromosomal breaks, and generating potentially useful genetic mutations are possible benefits, whereas faulty regulation of endogenous retroviral expression could account for some examples of autoimmune disease.

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