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Cell. 1988 Aug 12;54(4):497-504.

Retroviral DNA integration: structure of an integration intermediate.

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


The structure of a presumptive DNA intermediate in the integration of retroviral DNA was studied in a cell-free reaction with exogenously added target DNA. The product made by viral core particles of Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MLV) containing linear viral DNA has a structure consistent with an integration mechanism similar to that observed during bacteriophage Mu transposition. In this intermediate, the 3' ends of the LTR sequences are joined to the target DNA, while the 5' ends of the viral DNA remain unjoined. The 5' ends of the LTR sequences in the intermediate are exactly the same as those found in the unintegrated linear double-stranded viral DNA. This result demonstrates that the linear form of Mo-MLV DNA can integrate directly without prior circularization.

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