Beneficial and detrimental effects of human endogenous retroviruses

Int J Cancer. 2010 Jan 15;126(2):306-14. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24902.


In this mini review, we aim to evaluate the structure and function of Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) with respect to the benefit they may have for humans or the damage they may cause. Emphasis is laid on their putative roles, if any, in pregnancy, in gene regulation and in cancer. As a basis for this discussion it will first be necessary to briefly describe the structure and function of retroelements, including HERVs, before addressing their positive or negative effects at the cellular and organismal level. Finally, we will give an outlook in which we will attempt to define priorities for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Retroelements / genetics*
  • Retroviridae / genetics


  • Retroelements