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A protein important for cognition and memory named Arc can encapsulates genetic material (polyhedron enveloping the ribbon-like strands) and delivers it to brain cells in a manner similar to the way in which viruses infect host cells. Credit: Chris Manfre.
Researchers reveal a protein essential for memory and cognition looks and acts like a protein from a virus.
Two research groups have reported that cells use virus-like proteins to shuttle information between them – a new form of cell communication that may be central to memory formation. The gene that encodes the proteins is a remnant of one of many viruses that have integrated into animal DNA hundreds of millions of years ago.