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Science. 1996 Mar 15;271(5255):1579-82.

Human foamy virus replication: a pathway distinct from that of retroviruses and hepadnaviruses.

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98104, USA.


Human foamy virus (HFV) is the prototype of the Spumavirus genus of Retroviridae. In all other retroviruses, the pol gene products, including reverse transcriptase, are synthesized as Gag-Pol fusion proteins and are cleaved to functional enzymes during viral budding or release. In contrast, the Pol protein of HFV is translated from a spliced messenger RNA and lacks Gag domains. Infectious HFV particles contain double-stranded DNA similar in size to full-length provirus, suggesting that reverse transcription has taken place in viral particles before new rounds of infection, reminiscent of hepadnaviruses. These data suggest that foamy viruses possess a replication pathway containing features of both retroviruses and hepadnaviruses but distinct from both.

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