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Curr Opin Virol 2018 08;31:1-8
Viruses are ubiquitous parasites of cellular life forms and the most abundant biological entities on earth. The relationships between viruses and their hosts involve the continuous arms race but are by no account limited to it. Growing evidence shows that, in the course of evolution, viruses and their components are repeatedly recruited (exapted) for host functions. The functions of exapted viruses typically involve either defense from other viruses or cellular competitors or transfer of nucleic acids between cells, or storage functions. Virus exaptation can reach different depths, from recruitment of a fully functional virus to exploitation of defective, partially degraded viruses, to utilization of individual virus proteins.