Carl Zimmer is, hands down, one of the best science writers out there. Its no surprise, then, that he is almost as obsessed with viruses as I am. Viruses are our past and our future, and Zimmer *gets* it.
So while I am busy in the lab this week, I will happily point you to a piece he recently wrote about ERVs and embryos.
Regarding the paper he is writing about— I dont think the active ERVs are ‘doing’ anything in embryos. I dont think we have evidence that the active ‘silent’ viruses are genuinely domesticated. I think the ERV activity is probably a side-effect of alterations in epigenetics, rather than a ’cause’ of totipotent cells. Regardless, ERV might show us directly or indirectly how to induce totipotency…. sweeeeeeeet!!