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Life sciences/Genetics/Microbial genetics/Viral genetics/Viral DNA

The genome of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) was first sequenced over 20 years ago, but researchers have now discovered that the common pathogen has a surprisingly complex protein-coding capacity as well.

The virus only causes birth defects in newborn infants and disease in adults with compromised immune systems, but it infects most humans on the planet. The new findings, published in the 23 November issue of Science, could help explain why HCMV is such a widespread and successful virus.

In October 2009, a Science report that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) were infected with XMRV attracted a great deal of attention, but subsequent studies could not confirm this finding. Now, a new study in the 22 September edition of ScienceExpress reports that the lab tests used to detect the retrovirus called XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are unreliable. The study is accompanied by a partial retraction of the original Science paper.