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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Human endogenous retrovirus K homologous sequences and their coding capacity in Old World primates.

The coding capacity for retroviral Gag and Env proteins has been maintained in human endogenous retroviruses of the HERV-K family. HERV-K homologous sequences have been found in all Old World primates. Here, we examined Old World primate species for the presence of full-length HERV-K gag and env genes and the presence of gag and env open reading frames as determined by the protein truncation test. Full-length HERV-K env genes were found in DNAs of all Old World primate species, whereas open reading frames for Env protein were found solely in human, chimpanzee, and gorilla DNAs. The mutational event leading to two HERV-K types was found to have occurred after the separation of hominids from lower Old World primates and before the expansion of hominids. Full-length HERV-K gag genes in hominids displayed a 96-bp deletion compared to those in lower Old World primates. The ancient gag variant has not been maintained during hominid evolution. Open reading frames for HERV-K Gag have been found in all Old World primates except chimpanzees. Our study of the HERV-K family during Old World primate evolution contributes to the understanding of their possible biological functions in the host genomes.[1]


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