Human Endogenous Retroviruses; Evolutionary Dynamics, Chromosomal Location and Host Benefit


Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are remnants of past retroviral infection that have been integrated within the human genome. Our glimpse of these viruses perhaps highlights their evolutionary dynamics over time. Survival of both virus and host are paramount and it is plausible that some benefit has arisen whereby the human host has gained some selective advantage. In particular, some retroviral elements may have regulatory or biological functions. Of course harbouring viruses could also lead to harm if activated by environmental agents.

Keywords: endogenous retrovirus; genome; evolutionary dynamics; chromosomes; host benefit

Figure 1.

Division of human DNA. Approximate percentage breakdown of DNA. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) constitute part of the DNA ascribed to transposable elements.

Figure 2.

Time‐line of HERV integration within primate evolution. Modified with regard to Steinhuber et al. .



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Nelson, Paul, Freimanis, Graham, and Roden, Denise(Jul 2008) Human Endogenous Retroviruses; Evolutionary Dynamics, Chromosomal Location and Host Benefit. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020831]