Endogenous bornavirus-like elements (EBLs) are ancient bornavirus-derived sequence in the genomes of eukaryotes. Expression profile of EBLs suggests that, although most of the EBLs in mammalian genomes have lost their coding potential, many of them are transcribed in a cell-type specific or ubiquitous manner. This observation leads us to speculate that EBLs may have functions in their host cells. Here we describe possible functions of EBLs and their evolutionary significance. Our recent studies revealed that EBLs in some mammals, including humans, play critical roles in viral infection as either RNAs or proteins in previously undescribed mechanisms. Considering that species having EBLs in their genomes appear to be relatively resistance to BDV-mediated pathogenesis, endogenization of RNA viruses might be an evolutionarily inevitable event in the adaptation of hosts to the viruses.
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