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Trends Biochem Sci. 1998 Aug;23(8):297-301.

Nucleic-acid-chaperone activity of retroviral nucleocapsid proteins: significance for viral replication.

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  • 1Retroviral Genetics Section, NCI-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


Retrovirus particles contain a small, basic protein, the nucleocapsid (NC) protein, that possesses 'nucleic acid chaperone' activity--that is, the NC protein can catalyze the rearrangement of a nucleic acid molecule into the conformation that has the maximal number of base pairs. The molecular mechanism that underlies this effect is not understood. Because the chaperone activity is apparently crucial during the infectious process, NC is a potential target for antiviral therapy.

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