Commentary| Volume 64, ISSUE 12, P1017-1018, December 15, 2008

The Past Is the Future

      How odd it is to realize that our genome contains the remnants of thousands of viruses that infected our primate ancestors millions of years ago. These viral remnants, called human endogenous retroviruses, or HERVs, make up approximately 8% of our genome. We are aware of the contemporary exogenous retroviruses that cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other diseases, and it is likely that some of the ancient HERVs were just as lethal in our ancestors when they first infected them.
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