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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Feb 15;88(4):1339-43.

Activities of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) integration protein in vitro: specific cleavage and integration of HIV DNA.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institutes of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Growth of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after infection requires the integration of a DNA copy of the viral RNA genome into a chromosome of the host. Here we present a simple in vitro system that carries out the integration reaction and the use of this system to probe the mechanism of integration. The only HIV protein necessary is the integration (IN) protein, which has been overexpressed in insect cells and then partially purified. DNA substrates are supplied as oligonucleotides that match the termini of the linear DNA product of reverse transcription. In the presence of HIV IN protein, oligonucleotide substrates are cleaved to generate the recessed 3' ends that are the precursor for integration, and the cleaved molecules are efficiently inserted into a DNA target. Analysis of reaction products reveals that HIV IN protein joins 3' ends of the viral DNA to 5' ends of cuts made by IN protein in the DNA target. We have also used this assay to characterize the sequences at the ends of the viral DNA involved in integration. The assay provides a simple screen for testing candidate inhibitors of HIV IN protein; some such inhibitors might have useful antiviral activity.

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