Integration of retroviral DNA into a germ cell may lead to a provirus that is transmitted vertically to that host's offspring as an endogenous retrovirus (ERV). In humans, ERVs (HERVs) comprise about 8% of the genome, the vast majority of which are truncated and/or highly mutated and no longer encode functional genes. The most recently active retroviruses that integrated into the human germ line are members of the Betaretrovirus-like HERV-K (HML-2) group, many of which contain intact open reading frames (ORFs) in some or all genes, sometimes encoding functional proteins that are expressed in various tissues. Interestingly, this expression is upregulated in many tumors ranging from breast and ovarian tissues to lymphomas and melanomas, as well as schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other disorders.
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