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The evolutionary dynamics of human endogenous retroviral families.

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Robert Koch-Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


The capacity to integrate into the chromosomal DNA of germ-line cells has endowed retroviruses with the potential to be vertically transmitted from generation to generation and eventually become fixed in the genomes of the entire population. This has been independently accomplished by several ancient retroviruses that invaded the genomes of our early and more recent primate and hominoid ancestors. Some of the inherited elements then proliferated in the genome, resulting in a number of lineages with complex phylogenetic patterns. Although the vast majority of chromosomally integrated retroelements have suffered inactivating mutations and deletions, a significant impact on various aspects of human biology has been recently revealed and evidence for the present activity of at least one human endogenous retrovirus family continues to accumulate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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