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J Virol. 1991 Dec;65(12):6942-52.

Circularization of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 DNA in vitro.

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  • 1Division of Human Retrovirology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.


Linear viral DNA present in cytoplasmic extracts of cells newly infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 can be induced to form 1-LTR and 2-LTR circles by incubation of the extracts in the presence of added nucleoside triphosphates. No circular DNA forms are detected when extracts are incubated in the absence of added nucleoside triphosphates. Restriction enzyme analysis and polymerase chain reaction analysis with selected primers, as well as DNA sequence analysis of the polymerase chain reaction products, show that most of the 2-LTR circles are the result of autointegration reactions, while 1-LTR circles result from recombination between the long terminal repeats on the linear viral DNA. In addition, a small amount of simple 2-LTR circles, formed by end-to-end joining of the linear viral DNA, is formed in vitro. Integration of the linear viral DNA into heterologous DNA competes effectively with the formation of 2-LTR circles by autointegration. However, concentrations of target DNA which completely block autointegration have no effect on the formation of 1-LTR circles or simple 2-LTR circles. Factors present in extracts of uninfected cells can mediate the formation of 1-LTR circles and simple 2-LTR circles from purified deproteinated linear viral DNA, indicating that viral proteins are not necessary for the formation of these two types of circular viral DNA. These experiments demonstrate that all the transformations of linear viral DNA which occur in the nuclei of cells infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 can be reproduced in vitro.

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