Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Provirus Hypothesis

Idea that some cancers are caused by RNA viruses that are reverse-transcribed into the DNA of a host cell where they act as a protooncogene. First proposed in 1960-64 by American molecular biologist H. M. Temin (1934-94), this idea that information could reside in RNA and could be copied in reverse and inserted as DNA (the provirus) into a host genome conflicted with the then central dogma of molecular biology. The eventual isolation of reverse transcriptase independently by Temin and David Baltimore provided support for Temin’s hypothesis.

See protovirus hypothesis.

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