Author(s): Lu K, Heng X, Summers MF
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Abstract Like all retroviruses, the human immunodeficiency virus selectively packages two copies of its unspliced RNA genome, both of which are utilized for strand-transfer-mediated recombination during reverse transcription-a process that enables rapid evolution under environmental and chemotherapeutic pressures. The viral RNA appears to be selected for packaging as a dimer, and there is evidence that dimerization and packaging are mechanistically coupled. Both processes are mediated by interactions between the nucleocapsid domains of a small number of assembling viral Gag polyproteins and RNA elements within the 5'-untranslated region of the genome. A number of secondary structures have been predicted for regions of the genome that are responsible for packaging, and high-resolution structures have been determined for a few small RNA fragments and protein-RNA complexes. However, major questions regarding the RNA structures (and potentially the structural changes) that are responsible for dimeric genome selection remain unanswered. Here, we review efforts that have been made to identify the molecular determinants and mechanism of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 genome packaging. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Mol Biol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access