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J Virol. 1995 Jun;69(6):3938-44.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 preintegration complexes containing discontinuous plus strands are competent to integrate in vitro.

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Infectious Disease Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Despite intensive study, the mechanism by which many retroviruses complete reverse transcription has remained unclear. Most retroviruses and all lentiviruses fail to synthesize a full-length second strand of the viral cDNA (plus strand) efficiently in infected cells. For human immunodeficiency virus type 1, we find in synchronous infection experiments that full-length plus strands are rare (< 1% of products) at times when integration is likely taking place. Subviral nucleoprotein complexes containing such discontinuous cDNA can be extracted from infected cells and used to generate integration products in vitro. Analysis of such integration products using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that the discontinuous viral DNA was efficiently integrated into an added target DNA. These data support a model in which the discontinuities in the plus strand need not be sealed until after integration, potentially by the enzymes that are already thought to repair DNA gaps at the junctions between host and viral DNA.

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