Viruses can steal our genetic code to create new human-virus genes
Like a scene out of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," a virus infects a host and converts it into a factory for making more copies of itself. Now researchers have shown that a large group of viruses, including influenza viruses and other serious pathogens, steal genetic signals from their hosts to expand their own genomes.
A cross-disciplinary team of virologists looked at a large group of viruses known as segmented negative-strand RNA viruses (sNSVs), which include widespread and serious pathogens of humans, domesticated animals and plants, including the influenza viruses and Lassa virus (the cause of Lassa fever). They showed that, by stealing genetic signals from their hosts, viruses can produce a wealth of previously undetected proteins. The researchers labeled them as UFO (Upstream Frankenstein Open reading frame) proteins, as they are encoded by stitching together the host and viral sequences. There was no knowledge of the existence of these kinds of proteins prior to this study.
Journal of Probe - Virology Research is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal which covers all aspects of theoretical and practical research of viruses - submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat, and virus-like agents. It is designed for the wide dissemination of research in this field to worldwide audience.
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