New and Endogenous Retroviruses

Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) represent footprints of previous retroviral infection and have been termed “fossil viruses”. These viruses are spread through vertical transmission via the germline DNA. The role of HERVS in disease is not well understood. They may play a role in human cancers and autoimmune disease. While in baboons and mice there are ERVs that are transmissible as infectious viruses, this is not the case in humans. Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) may be triggers of autoimmune rheumatic disease. Most endogenous retroviruses are silent—the genes that they encode are not expressed or are expressed only under restricted conditions, although in some animals one or more endogenous retroviruses are normally expressed during the lifetime of an animal.

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