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Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers from the US and UK have mapped endogenous parvoviral element, or EPV, diversity within hundreds of animal genomes. Parvoviruses infect a range of animals, including humans, and parts of the viruses have over the years become incorporated into those host genomes. As they report in PLOS Biology, the team uncovered 364 distinct EPVs from five viral genera, representing 200 different incorporation events that they traced to the Cenozoic Era. Based on this, they conclude that parvoviruses circulated widely as vertebrates evolved and that the viruses additionally developed lineage-specific adaptations. Better understanding of these interactions between EPVs and host genomes could further aid investigators developing parvoviruses as gene therapy vectors, according to the researchers. "Parvovirus gene therapy is a cutting-edge biomedical technology," senior author Rob Gifford from MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research says in a statement. "Our findings suggest that studying the natural biology and evolutionary history of parvoviruses can inform the rational design of vectors for safer and more effective gene therapies."