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New human retrovirus originated in mice

mples, DeRisi and Ganem used the Virochip, which was invented by DeRisi and his colleagues. The Virochip consists of a microarray of some 20,000 characteristic gene sequences -- called oligonucleotides -- representing a vast array of known viruses. The oligonucleotides are deposited as tiny spots on a small glass chip.

To detect viruses from tissue samples, the researchers isolated genetic material from each sample and tagged the genetic material with a fluorescent tracer. They then applied the fluorescently tagged genetic material to the microarray chip. Since genes tended to adhere to those with a complementary genetic sequence, any viral gene sequences in the sample would attach themselves to corresponding viral sequences on the chip. The telltale fluorescence on spots on the chip signaled the presence of viral genetic material in the sample.

Although the Virochip contains only sequences from known viruses, DeRisi said it can also detect new viruses because they invariably contain sequences that have been conserved in their evolution from related viruses.

The initial screen of the RNASEL-mutant prostate cancers revealed the presence of a genetic sequence that closely resembled that of a mouse virus called murine leukemia virus (MuLV). Murine leukemia virus is known as an endogenous virus because it normally exists as an integrated part of the mouse genome, rather than as independent, infective particle. MuLV is also a retrovirus, meaning its genetic material is in the form of RNA. The RNA is then reverse transcribed into DNA that is integrated into the DNA of the host cell the virus is infecting.

When the researchers isolated and sequenced the genome of the virus, they found that it was a xenotropic virus ?one that can only grow in foreign cells other than mouse cells. Thus, they named the virus, Xenotropic MuLV-related virus, or XMRV.

"This finding was a big surprise because most of these endogenous viral genomes have unde
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Source:Howard Hughes Medical Institute


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