A research group led by Professor Kazuhiko Imagawa of the University of Tokyo revealed that genes involved in the formation of the placenta in mammals were taken up from the infected virus, and that the genes were rewritten when infected with a virus with a better gene. I made it.Future fertility treatments may not be possible without the presence of this virus.

 Until now, the evolutionary direction of mammals has been inferred from the evolution of the placenta.It was thought that the cells evolved from pigs and horses to dogs, cats, and humans based on the degree of infiltration of nutrient-carrying cells into the placenta.However, in recent years, it has become clear that genes involved in placental formation have different origins that cannot be explained by natural evolution.

Endogenous viruses are the key to unraveling this mystery.When a virus infects an animal, the gene may be incorporated into the host's DNA.Such viruses are called endogenous retroviruses.The research group extracted all the genes expressed during placental formation in bovine and analyzed them with a computer to identify the genes derived from the endogenous retrovirus and to identify the function of each gene.When the results are integrated, it has become clear that mammals incorporate genes involved in placental formation from viral genes.Furthermore, when infected with a virus that has a gene with a better function, it has become possible to actively incorporate it.This discovery has the potential to overturn the previously thought evolutionary direction of mammals.In the future, it may be indispensable to regulate the expression of virus-derived genes in order to promote and control pregnancy.

Viruses have a strong image of being the cause of illness, but from the perspective of carrying genes, they may also carry useful genes.In addition to the placenta, many of the traits that are beneficial to survival may be caused by the virus.

Tokyo University

Established in the 10th year of the Meiji era.A university with the longest history in Japan and at the forefront of Japanese knowledge

The University of Tokyo was established in 1877 (Meiji 10) by integrating the Tokyo Kaisei School and the Tokyo Medical School.Since its establishment, it has developed education and research in a unique way in the world as a leading university in Japan and an academic center for the fusion of East and West cultures.As a result, many human resources have been produced in a wide range of fields, and many research achievements […]

University Journal Online Editorial Department

This is the online editorial department of the university journal.
Articles are written by editorial staff who have a high level of knowledge and interest in universities and education.
For inquiries and opinions regarding the content of articles, etc. hereThank you.