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J Virol. 1990 May;64(5):2421-5.

Integration is not necessary for expression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 protein products.

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Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 68105-1065.


A common feature in the life cycle of cytocidal retroviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), is the accumulation of large amounts of unintegrated viral DNA. As yet, the role of unintegrated viral DNA in the cytopathogenesis of cytocidal retrovirus infections remains unresolved. HIV-1 mutants which were deleted in the integrase/endonuclease gene and which were unable to establish an integrated form of the virus were constructed. Despite an inability to integrate, these mutants were fully competent templates for HIV-1 core and envelope antigen production. HIV-1 antigen could be detected in the supernatants of lymphocyte cultures infected with HIV-1 integrase mutants. However, an inability to rescue infectious virus from these cultures indicated that HIV-1 integration was required for the production of infectious HIV-1. On the basis of the ability of unintegrated HIV-1 DNA to serve as a template for HIV-1 antigen production, it is plausible that unintegrated viral DNA can contribute to the HIV-1 antigen pool during HIV-1 replication.

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