Endogenous retroviruses, ancient viruses embedded throughout mammalian genomes, might help RNA viruses permanently integrate into the genomes of their hosts, according to a report in linkurl:__Science__;http://www.sciencemag.org/ this week. The findings overturn the long-held idea that most types of RNA viruses are incapable of DNA integration and raise another safety concern in the use of RNA-based gene therapy. "It's a very interesting paper," said Jens Mayer from the University of Saarland, who was not involved in the research, adding that it "touches a number of fields." linkurl:Lars Hangartner;http://www.virology.uzh.ch/research/hangartnerGroupENid_en.html from the University of Zurich started his investigation with a 1997 paper, in which colleague linkurl:Paul Klenerman,;http://www.jenner.ac.uk/invest_biog_p_klenerman.html then at the University Hospital Zurich, noticed that a small fraction of mouse cells contained DNA that was complementary to a mouse RNA virus. That study reported that the RNA virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) had somehow integrated into the mouse genome -- surprising because...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?