Home > DNA in the News > Childhood Viruses and Inherited DNA

Childhood Viruses and Inherited DNA

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 29 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Dna Infected Hhv-6 Chromosome Parent

With all of the viruses that children seem to pick up, it might come as a surprise that there are also viruses that can be passed from a parent to a child at birth. The virus is not passed in the blood as might be expected but in the DNA. A new study that was recently performed could provide important knowledge about how DNA and viruses are passed down and can trigger an immune response.

Childhood Infections

A recent study found that a virus known to trigger a universal infection during childhood is passed from a parent's DNA at birth. Scientists examining the link found that the majority of babies who are infected with the HHV-6 virus – known to cause roseola – had the virus within their chromosomes. On top of that, the mother or father had the virus in their chromosomes.

This finding gives the indication that it could be something known as a germline transmission, where the transmission involves an egg or a sperm. Researchers want to understand what the implications are for a chromosome with a virus integrated into it.

One question researchers have is whether or not it could again be activated or alternately, if it might trigger any other issues. Yet another question involves the body's immune response to the virus.

Universal Infection

One important reason that researchers are asking such a large number of questions is because most people are infected with the HHV-6 virus. A member of the herpes family of viruses, it causes roseola, which is an infection that shows signs and symptoms such as a high fever and other indications commonly seen with many other respiratory or gastrointestinal issues.

Twenty percent of children also show a rapidly appearing rash that can be seen as the fever begins to break. When researchers initially began investigating the virus, they looked at infants, some of whom had HHV-6. Almost half were born with the virus while the other infants were infected at a later time.

Researchers found that most of the babies born with the virus had the virus in the chromosome. The initial thought was that the virus had found a way to cross the placenta from the mother to her child.

However, in most of the cases it was actually inherited from the genetic material. Further testing found that it was either the mother or the father who had HHV-6 in the chromosomes. Yet, it was only one parent – never both of them who carried the virus in their chromosomes.

Viral DNA Integration

Researchers found that there were a number of places where the virus integrated into the DNA – typically at the very end of the chromosome where telomeres are located. These telomeres offer protection to the chromosome and they also play a role in immunological responses. The babies who were infected all showed antibodies to HHV-6, thereby showing that some kind of an immunological response had occurred.

Enhancing DNA Knowledge

Interestingly enough, previous research had found that there were other viruses that can integrate into DNA and be passed from a parent to a child. However, these viruses had not been known to actually cause any symptoms or trigger an immunological response. In this sense, the new study has provided improved knowledge of the role of DNA in viral inheritance. Hopefully, researchers can make full sense of the data and we can better find out just how viruses can integrate into DNA.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Are allergies inherited too? Could a DNA test tell you if you're like to suffer the same allergies as a parent?
ceebee - 29-Jan-15 @ 9:37 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • bhad bhabie
    Re: DNA Sequencing
    why is this sooo long and its hard to understand what this is talking about.
    19 October 2018
  • Rhonda
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My grandfather died in 1959 and I was wondering if you could do dna from an old pipe of his.
    17 October 2018
  • Rhonda
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Can you take dna from an old pipe. My grandfather died in 1959 and we only have an old pipe.
    17 October 2018
  • Shelley1964
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I am trying to get citizenship for the UK as my father was born there. However my parents were not married at the time of my birth and my…
    15 October 2018
  • Nadeoui Eden
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I am 73 years old. My birth father died in 1976 and I know where he is buried. I have been very active in family research, but have no…
    13 October 2018
  • Nadeoui Eden
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    I am 72 years old. My birth father never gave us accurate family information. I know where he is buried. Would it be legal or possible for me…
    13 October 2018
  • ugly lil boy
    Re: DNA Sequencing
    exscuse me my name is mariah and i need my answer for i tell on all of yall.
    12 October 2018
  • b vf
    Re: The Properties of DNA
    you better tell me what the 5 chararistics of dna are \
    12 October 2018
  • Enoch Correa
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My son died on july and i think that the ashes they give me not belong to my son how can i do to find out that the ashes they give me belongs…
    30 September 2018
  • Suzette Brits
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    My sister reasonly found out that my father was not her farther we did a paternity test which confirmed this. We suspect who the real farther…
    26 September 2018