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virus origins

Micky Krol mkrol at macc.wisc.edu
Thu Jan 19 14:05:18 EST 1995

In article <3fj9nj$fu$1 at mhadg.production.compuserve.com>, William Lubarsky
<72570.3130 at CompuServe.COM> wrote:

> Are viruses primitively non-cellular organisms (loosely 
> speaking),  secondarily simplified descendants of cellular forms,
> or perhaps not a natural group at all but evolved from different
> types of ancestral stocks?
> -- 
> William Lubarsky
Actually, some would have it (and have some evidence to support the ideas) 
that the original genetic material was RNA, thus RNA viruses share a common
ancestor with those retrotransposons/retroelements that other folks have

I tend to support this idea, just because we can see RNA as such a
multi-purpose compound...information storage, nuclease and (limited)
polymerase activity, acyltransferase in protein synthesis, tRNA like
structures as "tags" for genome replication...and other stuff seems to
support the idea that viruses are more like molecular fossils of ancient
strategies of handling and replication genetic information than mere
ancestors of or decendants of cellular forms...

for the literature oriented, a neat overview of many features of RNA that
support such theories was published in 1993 by cold spring harbor press,
and is called The RNA World, R. F. Gesteland and J. F. Atkins, eds.

In brief, there is evidence to support the RNA genome -> retroelement ->DNA
genome  scheme.

Yup, these opinions are only my own, and sometimes not even that.  So
please don't blame them on anyone else, not even my Mom.

PGP public key available on request...I prefer to recieve letters that are
in envelopes over those on postcards

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