Seminar Maya Voichek: The twilight zone between transposons and endogenous retroviruses
Endogenous retroviruses are abundantly embedded within host genomes and provide a unique snapshot of multiple past viral infections. They are thought to be evolutionarily related and structurally similar to LTR retrotransposons, yet retroviruses primarily differ by a canonical Envelope gene crucial for infectivity. We have discovered a group of active transposons in the Drosophila ovary that mimic retroviral behavior – demonstrating infectivity traits – despite the absence of an Envelope-coding gene. We further identified an alternative fusogenic gene encoded in the genomes of these transposons, potentially substituting the Envelope’s role in enabling cell-cell transmission. By mining genomes, we found such fusogenic genes to be widespread in the context of transposons among insects, including clinically important mosquitoes. These findings, which introduce the concepts of infectious transposons or Envelope-less retroviruses, necessitate reconsideration and redefinition of the conventional boundaries between transposons and viruses.
Organized by Molecular Diversity of Microbes Team.
To meet the speaker and/or questions: email@example.com