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We know something about the origin of the first cell. But what do we know about prions? How did they originate?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, it's not like we know the origin of cells. $\endgroup$ – Eli Korvigo Dec 24 '15 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Bird - I agree with Eli... what do you mean by "we know the origin of the first cell"? $\endgroup$ – Vance L Albaugh Dec 24 '15 at 22:13
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The computational study by Ehsani et al., 2011, argues that an ancestor metal-ion transporter gene ZIP served as the initial template for the prion founder gene, where the same author produced a 2012 paper that said this was probably a product of a spliced LIV-1 ZIP transcript that became reverse transcribed and inserted into the host genome. Thus, evidence in part points to a retrogene origin for prions (mediated by a retrovirus, especially since the gene is integrated into the host w/ no introns). They go on to state that two genomic rearrangements spanning hundreds of millions of years serve as the basis for the prion founder gene: A cysteine flanked core element inserted into the ZIP ectodomain, and then the insertion of a spliced, C-truncated ZIP transcript.

I don't think the evolutionary origin of prions are very well understood, yet, but I will try to find more recent data on the subject.

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