British researchers have revealed how a leukaemia causing virus interacts with human DNA.
Researchers say that the human leukaemia virus - HTLV-1 - acts at a large number of sites across the human genome.
According to their findings, it changes the folding pattern of human DNA in the cells it infects, affecting gene expression and increasing the risk of disease.
The virus is thought to infect ten million people globally - and up to 10% can develop aggressive forms of leukaemia or other diseases.
The researchers, from Imperial College London and The European Bioinformatics Institute, say the virus disrupts DNA loops by binding to the CTCF protein.
Researcher Professor Charles Bangham, of Imperial College, London, said: "Through binding to these specific sites in the genome, retroviruses like HTLV-1 can alter chromatin loops and disrupt how a number of important genes are regulated. This can lead to the abnormalities and disease, such as the leukaemia associated with HTLV-1."
Source: Melamed, A., Yaguchi, H., Miura, M., Witkover, A., Fitzgerald, T.W., Birney, E. and Bangham, C.R., 2018. The human leukemia virus HTLV-1 alters the structure and transcription of host chromatin in cis. bioRxiv, p.277335.
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