A fascinating story on the viral contribution to our DNA. I’ve tried to explain to creationists that even if we hadn’t found a single fossil, the DNA record would be more than sufficient to confirm the theory of evolution. The things we’re learning are just fascinating. Viruses may have been a key component in our own survival and evolution as a species.
That the sequences, some of which may have been integrated into the genomes more than 40 million years ago, have been largely conserved over evolutionary time suggests that they give the host a selective advantage, perhaps protecting them from future infections by viruses from those families. The study shows that integration of the ancient viral sequences was probably mediated by movable elements, LINEs, which are abundant in mammalian genomes.
“In a way, one might even think of these integrations as genomic vaccinations,” says Skalka.
How’s that for cool?