Saturday, March 5, 2011

Real Maverick Virus Discovered

Not Mega Man news, per se, but fans of the X series should get a kick out of this little tidbit.  A year back, scientists uncovered the likes of a gnarly virus by the name of CroV. Now, that same team has returned to give it another glance, but this time, they discovered something a bit more versatile:

"While studying CroV, the researchers discovered a much smaller virus that frequently accompanied it. The new virus, which they term Mavirus (for "Maverick virus") is still a healthy size, as far as most viruses are concerned, weighing in at just over 19,000 DNA bases, and encoding 20 genes. But Mavirus never appeared on its own; instead, it was only active in cells when the larger CroV was around, even though it could enter cells on its own. The authors conclude that it probably steals CroV's copying machinery for making more Maviruses; this is consistent with the fact that CroV infections slow down when Mavirus is around."
"Tansposable elements, or transposons, are stretches of DNA that can move around the genome, hopping from place to place. They're so effective at this that about a third of the human genome is composed of various forms of transposons, which don't appear to do anything very helpful, but require energy to copy."
"Once in the genome, however, the viral DNA would be free to evolve into something closer to a parasite."

Dun dun dun!

Though likely not named after th X series virus, the real Maverick virus does seem to share some (albeit minor) similarities with the fictional computer virus. Fortunately, this puppy won't be causing organisms to go on a murderous rampage any time soon.

Full article available at Ars Technica. Thanks, Hypercoyote!