How do viruses work in making us smart?

Viruses help in smart work

Main Point:

Viruses are important in making us smarter by improving the basic functions of the brain, especially the regulation of gene expressions.

Published in:

Cell Reports

Study Further:

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have found that millions of year’s old inherited viruses can have special impact on the development of complex networks in the brain of human beings.

Previously, it was clear that endogenous retroviruses make nearly 5% of DNA of human beings, but these DNAs were considered as junk DNAs, which are of no value. Now, scientists have found that these retroviruses have an important function in regulating the gene expressions in the brain, thereby taking part in one of the most important aspects of brain functioning. Contribution of viruses in the functioning of brain cells is also helpful in explaining the dynamic as well as multifaceted nature of the cells in the brain. This research is also showing that with evolutionary processes, viruses have taken strong hold of our cellular life.

Rretrovirus (Source: Stanford School of Medicine)
Retrovirus (Source: Stanford School of Medicine)

Retroviruses have the ability to be activated specifically in the cells of the brain. It is thought that nerve cells have the ability to be protected from the development of tumors, and that is the reason for activation of viruses particularly in the brain.

This research can also help in investigating the brain diseases that are related to hereditary factors. Presently, researchers think that only genes are responsible for such hereditary diseases, but this research has opened up new horizons of research.


Fasching, L., Kapopoulou, A., Sachdeva, R., Petri, R., Jönsson, M., Männe, C., Turelli, P., Jern, P., Cammas, F., Trono, D., & Jakobsson, J. (2015). TRIM28 Represses Transcription of Endogenous Retroviruses in Neural Progenitor Cells Cell Reports, 10 (1), 20-28 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.004

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."