HIV-1 reverse transcription: a brief overview focused on structure-function relationships among molecules involved in initiation of the reaction.


An early step in the life cycle of the human immunodeficiency virus ...
An early step in the life cycle of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is reverse transcription of viral RNA into proviral DNA, which can then be integrated into the host cell genome. Reverse transcription is a discontinuous process carried out by the viral encoded reverse transcriptase that displays DNA polymerase activities on RNA and DNA templates as well as an RNase H activity that degrades transcribed RNA. DNA synthesis is initiated by cellular tRNALys3 that binds at its 3'-terminus to the complementary primer binding site of the genomic RNA. The initiation of reverse transcription is itself a complex reaction that requires tRNA placement onto viral RNA and the formation of a specific primer/template complex that is recognized by reverse transcriptase. After initiation takes place, the enzyme translocates from the initially bound RNA/RNA duplex into chimeric replication intermediates and finally accommodates newly synthesized DNA/RNA hybrids. This review focuses on structure-function relationships among these various molecules that are involved in the initiation of HIV-1 reverse transcription.




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