April 29, 2021
I wish to speak tonight in paraphrase. For those interested in the technical details, the referenced article explains all. The only relatively little known scientific term I will use is “Retrotransposon." A retrotransposon is a “jumping gene."
Think of cut and paste. Think of the most important document you can. For some it may be the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Constitution, or (for myself) Hamlet.
Now imagine you have that document loaded into Word. Next, conjure up a macro that randomly selects parts of your cherished document, converts the selected charaters into random nonsense, and pastes that nonsense back into another random part of your document. Now repeat that process over and over. You will soon realize that parts of your document no longer work.
“In the beginning #$($)OExanAuetionae, &ER49 afgoeaet neg tes."
Now imagine that you did that randomly, all throughout your document.
This is what SARS-CoV-2 is doing to the Bible of yourself.
Your body has ancient DNA (genes) that have existed in a state of detente within your genome for millions of years. These genes have been silent and inactive because the body knows well enough to let sleeping dogs lie. SARS-CoV-2 removes that self-protection and wakes them up – with a vengeance. Until now we have significantly increased our understanding of how the mammalian cell attempts to coexist with a molecular parasite whose unchecked activity could be bad news indeed.
We have all seen countless sci-fi movies in which, as a last attempt to protect a state secret or a population, anything from a message to a spaceship initiates a self-destruct sequence. Once begun, it is unstoppable. It silently proceeds until the “offending" target is annihilated.
I do not yet know why in some people this genetic self destruction sequence begins. Because, on the other side of this coin, it is reasonable to presume that from the study of factors controlling endogenous retrotransposition new insights into the control of viral infections will emerge.
And, indeed, these minions of genetic alteration, have driven diversity and evolution since the emergence of the very first retrovirus.
If this is an attempt to “cleanse" humanity and “stimulate" diversity, I defer to Jesus:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
Exogenous coronavirus interacts with endogenous retrotransposon in human cells
Restricting retrotransposons: a review