They have determined that several thousands of the retroviruses that have established themselves in our genome may serve as “docking platforms” for a protein called TRIM28. This protein has the ability to “switch off” not only viruses but also the standard genes adjacent to them in the DNA helix, allowing the presence of ERV to affect gene expression.
This switching-off mechanism may behave differently in different people, since retroviruses are a type of genetic material that may end up in different places in the genome. This makes it a possible tool for evolution, and even a possible underlying cause of neurological diseases. In fact, there are studies that indicate a deviating regulation of ERV in several neurological diseases such as ALS, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
They can be found in a part of DNA that was previously considered unimportant, so called junk-DNA — a notion that researchers have now started to reconsider. Paper. (public access) – Per Ludvik Brattås et al., TRIM28 Controls a Gene Regulatory Network Based on Endogenous Retroviruses in Human Neural Progenitor Cells. Cell Reports, 2017; 18 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.010More.
Wasn’t there an obscene blog, a few troll waves back, that attacked design in nature on the basis of ERVs? Anyone remember?
See also: Viruses observed sending chemical messages
Large human brain size easily explained?
Human origins: The war of trivial explanations
“Junk” RNA helps regulate metabolism
Junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness any more.
Anyone remember ENCODE? Not much junk DNA? Still not much. (Paper is open access.)
Yes, Darwin’s followers did use junk DNA as an argument for their position.
Another response to Darwin’s followers’ attack on the “not-much-junk-DNA” ENCODE findings
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