Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Protovirus Hypothesis

Proposal that retroviruses emerged when portions of RNA became reversetranscribed into DNA products that became integral parts of the genomes of host cells. In time, such retroviral fragments became capable of emerging as independent and infectious viral particles, and after millions of years of evolution, homologous particles are found deposited randomly in the DNA of many animals. First proposed in 1970-71 by American molecular biologist Howard. M. Temin (1934-94).

See provirus hypothesis.

Cf. oncogene hypothesis (which it replaced).

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