Ancient Viral Genes Improve A Brain’s Ability To Fight Infection- Study

Teresa Breaux | Last Updated : September 28, 2022

A study that was conducted by two doctors in Tokyo Dr. Fumitoshi Ishino and Dr. Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino found that ancient viral genes helped the brain in fighting against new infections in the body of mammals. They conducted their study on a rat and they found that two of the genes which was left by a viral infection years ago helped its brain fight new infections.

However, different viral infections starting from the common cold to covid have a great influence on our daily life. But we are unaware that the genes which are left over by such infection when getting after evolution becomes powerful enough to fight against new infections.

These genes are known as Retrotransposon Gag-like 5 and 6 (Rtl5/Rtl6) and are present in almost all mammals and it very much resembles the genes in HIV retroviruses. These genes were preserved in mammals for about 120 years by inheriting them from their ancestors.

How The Study Was Conducted

The scientists were like, they didn’t expect that the genes Rlt6 and Rlt5 will bring a significant change in the microglia cell of the brain when they started their research 15 years ago. He further added that the turning point to the discovery occurred when Dr. Ishino started to remove the brain of the rat carefully. The scientists found that the genes Rtl5 and Rtl6 were activated in the microglia brain cells, at the time when the infection was caused in the body. They also found that at the time when the genes are activated, the proteins RTL5/6 were produced. 

Ancient Viral Genes Improve A Brain's Ability To Fight Infection

So in order to confirm their discovery, they decided to activate RTL6 and RLT5 proteins to fight against infection by damaging the brain of the rat by creating infection in its brain. They found that while the microglia cell containing the protein RLT5 worked to suppress the viral infection, the microglia cell containing the RLT6 protein fought against the fake bacteria which was created by the team.

When the scientists made further research by removing the Rlt6 gene from the mice, they found that the rat was unable to fight against the fake bacteria as the RLT6 protein was not secreted. And when the team removed the Rlt5 gene from the mice, they found that the rat was unable to fight against the viral infection as the RLT5 protein was not secreted which was capable of suppressing the viral infection. So the scientists concluded that the genes Rlt5 and Rlt6 together fought against bacterial and viral infections thus protecting the brain.

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Viruses have a positive impact on the body of mammals

After the study, the scientists concluded that the viruses have got a positive impact on the body of mammals. One of the perfect examples of their positive impact is this study which is conducted on the genes Rlt5 and Rlt6. one of the scientists who conducted the study, Dr. Ishino said that it is necessary to have a virus-affected gene in the genome and it plays a vital role in the development and the enhancement of the humans and other mammals. These genes will become more powerful in fighting against various infections in the human body as they undergo evolution after ages.

About the scientists behind the discovery

As we have already mentioned the two scientists behind the discovery are Dr. Fumitoshi Ishino and Dr. Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino. Dr. Fumitoshi Ishino is a Professor of Molecular Biology at Tokyo Medical and Dental University of Japan while Dr. Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino is a Professor of Molecular Biology at the Tokai University in Kanagawa of Japan.



🟢National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke (n.d) Brain Basics: Genes At Work In The Brain (Available On):

Teresa Breaux

Teresa Breaux is a renowned health practitioner who serves as a social worker. She expertized in treating eating disorders and focuses mainly on family-based treatments. Apart from working as a health practitioner, she even provides public awareness through her writings and blogs. Her content includes methods by which you can make delicious and healthy recipes. She is so passionate about writing, especially on issues with eating habits and the importance of eating healthy. If you are someone who loves healthy tips to make your life better, then you must have run across her blogs. You can visit her website and even follow her on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

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