How we identify an ERV?

It seems that an argument from the ID community that what some people call ERVs are not really inserted by a virus but rather a functional genes that express themselves.

2 questions:

  1. What is the strongest evidence that what we call ERVs originated from a Retrovirus?
  2. Is there any studies were someone has observed a retrovirus infection turning into an ERV in mammals?

There are many pieces of evidence, but one of the strongest is that when you take the mutations out of the ERV’s they become functional retroviruses.

The next big piece of evidence is that we can watch retroviruses produce new ERV’s right in front of us. Inserting into the host genome is a part of the life cycle for retroviruses.

That’s thousands of observed retroviral insertions into the human genome with their positions mapped.

A more esoteric piece of evidence is the long tandem repeats that are the bookends to the ERV sequence. When a retrovirus prepares a copy of the genome to be inserted into the host genome it creates two repeat regions at either end of the genome that are identical in sequence. That hallmark of viral insertion is seen in ERV’s.

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