Authors:H. Niller, D. Salamon, S. Rahmann, Karin Ilg, Anita Koroknai, F. Bánáti, F. Schwarzmann, H. Wolf, and J. Minárovits
The left part of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome exhibits a strong colinearity of structural and functional elements with the immunoglobulin (Ig) gene loci which is only partially reflected in nucleotide sequence homologies. We propose that this colinearity may be the result of an inter-dependent co-evolution of the immunoglobulin loci together with EBV. Our observation could help elucidating the mechanisms of somatic hypermutation, explaining the ability of EBV to accidentally cause tumors, and shedding more light on the general mechanisms of viral and organismal evolution. We suggest that persisting viruses served as a complement for the organismal germline like in a ping-pong game and outline The Ping-Pong Evolution Hypothesis.