Origin of the retroviruses: when, where, and how?
Current Opinion in Virology
© 2017 The Author. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Retroviruses are a virus family of considerable medical and veterinary importance. Additionally, it is now clear that endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) comprise significant portions of vertebrate genomes. Until recently, very little was known about the deep evolutionary origins of retroviruses. However, advances in genomics and informatics have opened the way for great strides in understanding. Recent research employing a wide variety of bioinformatic approaches has demonstrated that retroviruses evolved during the early Palaeozoic Era, between 460-550 million years ago, providing the oldest inferred date estimate for any virus group. This finding presents an important framework to investigate the evolutionary transitions that led to the emergence of the retroviruses, offering potential insights into the infectious origins of a major group of pathogenic viruses.
This work was supported by a British Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Fellowship to AH (grant number: BB/N020146/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 25, pp. 23-27