Purpose of review: The immediate events in HIV-1 infection following fusion of HIV-1 particles with the target cells are poorly defined and difficult to study. It is generally thought that the viral capsid undergoes a disassembly process that has broadly been referred to as uncoating. The recent identification of species-specific host restriction factors that target the viral capsid has sparked new interest in retroviral uncoating.
Recent findings: Recent studies have used purified HIV-1 cores to study HIV-1 uncoating in vitro. This review summarizes the recent literature relevant to HIV-1 uncoating with a specific emphasis on viral and cellular factors that may regulate capsid stability.
Summary: Uncoating of the viral core is a key step in the infection of HIV-1 that is highly sensitive to alterations in capsid stability. The uncoating step of HIV-1 infection may thus represent an attractive target for the development of novel antiretroviral therapies.