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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Oct 11;91(21):9823-7.

Protection of retroviral DNA from autointegration: involvement of a cellular factor.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


An essential step in the retrovirus life cycle is integration of a DNA copy of the viral genome into a host chromosome. After reverse transcription, there can be a delay of many hours before the viral DNA is integrated. It is important for the retrovirus to ensure that the viral DNA does not integrate into itself during this period; such autointegration is a suicidal process that would result in destruction of the viral genome. Understanding of the mechanism that blocks autointegration of the viral DNA may lead to insights into how to inhibit viral replication by inducing the viral DNA to autointegrate. Evidence is presented in this report that viral nucleoprotein complexes isolated from cells infected with Moloney murine leukemia virus exhibit a barrier to autointegration. The barrier can be disrupted by high salt treatment and, subsequently, restored by addition of factors provided by a host cell extract. Our data indicate an involvement of host machinery in protecting retroviral DNA from autointegration.

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