Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Biol Chem. 1998 Feb 13;273(7):3808-16.

Control of initiation of viral plus strand DNA synthesis by HIV reverse transcriptase.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcribes its single-stranded RNA genome making a DNA copy. As synthesis proceeds, the RNA is simultaneously degraded to oligomers; one of these, the polypurine tract, primes synthesis of a plus strand DNA. The viral reverse transcriptase (RT) degrades all of the non-polypurine tract oligomers. We show that unlike other DNA polymerases the retroviral RT can bind either end of an annealed RNA primer, the 5'-end for degradation and the 3'-end for synthesis. The competition between the two binding modes at any primer determines whether it will be extended or degraded. The 5'-end binding can be suppressed in at least two ways. The sequence of the primer can be such that a region at the 5'-end is unannealed or a DNA primer can be annealed just adjacent to the 5'-end of the RNA primer. This promotes binding of RT to the RNA 3'-end, allowing a primer that would normally be degraded to be extended. Implications for human immunodeficiency virus replication and antiviral therapy are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center