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PLoS Pathog. 2007 Apr;3(4):e54.

Rev proteins of human and simian immunodeficiency virus enhance RNA encapsidation.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.


The main function attributed to the Rev proteins of immunodeficiency viruses is the shuttling of viral RNAs containing the Rev responsive element (RRE) via the CRM-1 export pathway from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. This restricts expression of structural proteins to the late phase of the lentiviral replication cycle. Using Rev-independent gag-pol expression plasmids of HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus and lentiviral vector constructs, we have observed that HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus Rev enhanced RNA encapsidation 20- to 70-fold, correlating well with the effect of Rev on vector titers. In contrast, cytoplasmic vector RNA levels were only marginally affected by Rev. Binding of Rev to the RRE or to a heterologous RNA element was required for Rev-mediated enhancement of RNA encapsidation. In addition to specific interactions of nucleocapsid with the packaging signal at the 5' end of the genome, the Rev/RRE system provides a second mechanism contributing to preferential encapsidation of genomic lentiviral RNA.

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