Covid 19 RNA Invaders Of The Human DNA

human dna

People who recover from COVID-19 may test positive for SARS-CoV-2, indicating that their immune systems were unable to protect them against a second coronavirus attack or that they have a persistent infection. But some genetics researchers have stirred much controversy on social media and in scientific circles claiming that SARS-CoV-2 can incorporate portions of its genetic code into the human DNA, but what could that mean? Viruses typically insert genetic material into the cells they infect, although it is usually kept separate from the host cell’s DNA. But there is a group of viruses that are known as retroviruses, they contain reverse transcriptase (RT), an enzyme that converts the retrovirus’s RNA to DNA. A reverse transcriptase is like a translator. RNA is an unknown language to the host cell, it needs to be translated by the translator to a language understood by the host cell, in this case, DNA. This translated viral DNA is subsequently incorporated into the DNA of the host cell, and successive progeny viruses are produced using the host cell’s machinery and DNA from the host cell. Is the pandemic disease following in the footsteps of HIV and other retroviruses by incorporating their genetic code into the human genome?


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) molecular biologist, Rudolf Jaenisch and his team were intrigued by reports of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 after recovering and wondered if the perplexing results were due to an artefact (inaccuracy in the perception or representation of any information introduced by the involved equipment or procedure) from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic assay, which detects specific virus sequences in biological samples such as nasal swabs, even if the virus fragmented and unviable. A research was done and published as a preprint in bioRxiv1, in the research, Jaenisch and the team introduced the gene for reverse transcriptase (RT), the enzyme that turns RNA into DNA in human cells. Subsequently, the altered cells with SARS-CoV-2 to see if the RNA genome of SARS-CoV-2 might integrate into the DNA of human chromosomes. The researchers used an HIV-related RT gene in one experiment. They similarly utilized RTs using human DNA sequences known as LINE-1 elements, which are residues of ancient retroviral infections and exist up to about 17% of the human genome. According to the team’s preprint, which was published in December 2020, cells producing either form of the enzyme resulted in certain portions of SARS-CoV-2 RNA being converted to DNA and incorporated into human chromosomes. The study’s findings, however, were not peer-reviewed and were highly lambasted on social media and science podcasts. According to commenters, they could be used to buttress false information about vaccines.

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Zandrea Ambrose, a virologist at the University of Pittsburgh, says if the integration does occur it will be “extremely rare.” LINE-1 elements in the human genome are rarely active, according to her. She notes, “It’s unclear what the activity would be in different primary cell types infected with SARS-CoV-2”. Tufts University virologist John Coffin finds the new research “believable,” saying that substantial data demonstrates that LINE-1 RT can allow viral material to integrate with individuals, but he’s not convinced yet. The evidence of SARS-CoV-2 sequences in individuals, according to Coffin, “should be more solid,” and Jaenisch’s team’s in vitro tests lack the controls he would have liked to see. At least two further preprints on the subject have since been released on bioRxiv, in which researchers claim they tried but failed to replicate the findings. The results were based on published libraries of RNA sequencing data from SARS-CoV-2 infected cell cultures and organoids of the lung, heart, brain, and stomach, as well as COVID-19 patient-derived cells, according to their argument. The process of creating these RNA-sequencing libraries is prone to errors and can result in chimaeras. They believe that the SARS-CoV-2 human chimeric transcripts could be lab artefacts formed during the library preparation process rather than natural infection. “There were holes in the argument,” Jaenisch told MedPage Today, “the evidence was not complete,” and “there was a reason for criticizing this paper’. He went on to say that the unnamed journal where he was submitting coronavirus papers required them to be uploaded on the bioRxiv site upon submission. He admitted that it was a mistake and regretted publishing the preprint. Jaenisch also said that he was under pressure and was forced to make it known. Just recently, in May 2021, Jaenisch and his team published another paper in PNAS2 and according to Jaenisch, the research supports two critical findings; SARS-CoV-2 could be incorporated into the human genome in small fragments and these integrated viral sequences can be detected by PCR.   In an interview with MedPage Today, Jaenisch said that he thinks that he and his team has proven and that there is no question based on observing DNA copies of the virus in the genome of infected cells. He believes that the sequences in patients have to come from integrated sequences. Although they admit that artefacts cannot be ruled out, Jaenisch and colleagues investigated the issue by comparing the orientation of integrated viral sequences to human genes. Given that viral sequences should insert at random, approximately half of them should be in the opposite (or negative-sense) orientation. They discovered that in at least one patient-derived sample, over 40% of human-viral hybrid transcripts had negative-sense integrations, while this number differed and was lower in other samples (mostly lung). They also discovered that genetic components typical of long interspersed nuclear elements-1 bordered the incorporated viral sequences (LINE-1). These LINE-1 elements, which are largely remnants of ancient viruses that slipped themselves into human genes through evolution, make up around 17% of the human genome. When active, LINE-1 elements, also known as selfish elements, can pop up all over the human genome and synthesize reverse transcriptase. SARS-CoV-2, unlike retroviruses like HIV, does not have a reverse transcriptase enzyme to help it transcribe into DNA, but these LINE-1 segments, according to Jaenisch, could be doing the job. These findings, he claims, prove that these LINE-1 components are involved in the integration mechanism. He told MedPage Today “We proved beyond doubt that this is the mechanism. This may reflect a general biological process not specific to coronaviruses ”. But even now with these findings, Jae and his colleagues are highly criticized and the findings are ‘irrelevant’. The debate continues as a peer-reviewed Journal of Virology recently published one of its preprints that argued against this hypothesis. These viral-human chimeric transcripts, according to a team of researchers from Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and the National Institutes of Health, are lab artefacts formed during RNA sequencing. Learn more about how our DNA test can help you. It’s considered the most advanced DNA test in Malaysia that we can provide, so we’d like to offer you our premium DNA test. You can take advantage of this offer and reap the benefits of getting a DNA test.

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