HIV-1 reverse transcription

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Oct 1;2(10):a006882. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a006882.


Reverse transcription and integration are the defining features of the Retroviridae; the common name "retrovirus" derives from the fact that these viruses use a virally encoded enzyme, reverse transcriptase (RT), to convert their RNA genomes into DNA. Reverse transcription is an essential step in retroviral replication. This article presents an overview of reverse transcription, briefly describes the structure and function of RT, provides an introduction to some of the cellular and viral factors that can affect reverse transcription, and discusses fidelity and recombination, two processes in which reverse transcription plays an important role. In keeping with the theme of the collection, the emphasis is on HIV-1 and HIV-1 RT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Viral
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / chemistry
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / metabolism*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcription*
  • Virus Replication / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • reverse transcriptase, Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase