- The war within our DNA
- Amsterdam Science
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
Throughout evolution, the human DNA has been invaded by multiple classes of ancient retroviruses. These viruses have become extinct long ago, but their DNA traces still linger in our genome, where they have given rise to what we now call retrotransposons. These virus-like genetic elements have
maintained the ability to multiply and insert new copies of themselves into our DNA. New
retrotransposon insertions can disrupt genes and cause disease, which forces us —the host genome—to come up with mechanisms to prevent these molecular jumping events.
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