Recombination of Retrotransposon and Exogenous RNA Virus Results in Nonretroviral cDNA Integration

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Science  16 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5912, pp. 393-396
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167375

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Retroviruses have the potential to acquire host cell–derived genetic material during reverse transcription and can integrate into the genomes of larger, more complex DNA viruses. In contrast, RNA viruses were believed not to integrate into the host's genome under any circumstances. We found that illegitimate recombination between an exogenous nonretroviral RNA virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, and the endogenous intracisternal A-type particle (IAP) retrotransposon occurred and led to reverse transcription of exogenous viral RNA. The resulting complementary DNA was integrated into the host's genome with an IAP element. Thus, RNA viruses should be closely scrutinized for any capacity to interact with endogenous retroviral elements before their approval for therapeutic use in humans.

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