Koala retrovirus

6 07 2008

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Koala retrovirus
Virus classification
Group: Group VI (ssRNA-RT)
Family: Retroviridae
Genus: Gammaretrovirus
unclassified Gammaretrovirus[1]

The Koala retrovirus (KoRv) is a retrovirus affecting many populations of koalas. It has been implicated as the agent of an AIDS-like immunodeficiency and a range of cancers in the native Australian marsupial. The virus is thought to be presently undergoing a transition between an active infective form and endogenous state within the koala genome.


Koala retrovirus was initially described as a novel endogenous retrovirus found within the koala genome in 2000. Sequence analysis strongly suggested a relationship with Gibbon Ape Leukemia Virus (GALV).[2]

New research however has shown that some populations of koalas, particularly an isolated colony on Kangaroo Island do not appear to have the provirus form of the retrovirus. This suggests that the gene sequence is a new acquisition for the koala genome. Studying the spread of the virus amongst Australian koala populations appears to show a trend spreading from the north down to the south of Australia. Northern populations are completely infected, while some southern populations (including Kangaroo Island) are free.[3]

It is thought that further studying KoRv will allow valuable insight into how endogenous retrovirus develop and incorporate themselves into mammalian genomes.[3]


  1. ^ Koala retroviurus Uniprot taxonomy
  2. ^ Hanger, Jon J.; Bromham, Lindell D.; McKee, Jeff J.; O’Brien, Tracy M. & Robinson, Wayne F. (May), “The Nucleotide Sequence of Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Retrovirus: a Novel Type C Endogenous Virus Related to Gibbon Ape Leukemia Virus”, Journal of Virology 74 (9): 4264–4272, <http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=10756041>
  3. ^ a b Stoye, Jonathan P (21 Nov), “Koala retrovirus: a genome invasion in real time”, Genome Biology 7: 241, doi:10.1186/gb-2006-7-11-24

Yes, I wrote all that. Not much. But I wouldn’t consider it a stub at least. What was weird was it took less than three minutes before someone came to do generic bagging and tagging.

While I couldn’t access the new Nature article I was able to access two free-access articles to help me understand it better (Hanger, 2000; with the original description and & Stoye 2006; reviewing the latest developments).

I came across KoRv reading yesterday’s Courier Mail. I knew about chlamydiosis, but hadn’t heard a squeak about KoRv. Wikipedia didn’t have anything. So I decided to fix that. Don’t like what I wrote, you can fix that to.




3 responses

28 07 2008
sergios-orestis kolokotronis

Hi there. Good job on posting an entry on Wikipedia. Here’s the Nature paper FYI: http://senduit.com/1a8523 The dnld will expire on Sunday 3 July. You may want to add the year of each publication in the Reflist, such as 2000 (instead of May) for the J Virol paper, 2006 (instead of 21 Nov) for the Genome Biol paper, and 2006 for the Nature paper.

Notice the high prevalence in the SE Queensland population (90/90). It’d be great if someone studied the genetic profile of the koala populations (microsatellites and MHC Class I loci).

28 07 2008
sergios-orestis kolokotronis

I meant the dnld http://senduit.com/1a8523 will expire on Sunday 3 August.

11 08 2008
Koala vs Cactus « It’s Alive!!

[…] emerging in the Queensland Outback has been branded a koala-killer. As if chlamydia and other diseases weren’t […]

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