Life of psi: how full-length HIV-1 RNAs become packaged genomes in the viral particles

Virology. 2014 Apr;454-455:362-70. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2014.01.019. Epub 2014 Feb 14.


As a member of the retrovirus family, HIV-1 packages its RNA genome into particles and replicates through a DNA intermediate that integrates into the host cellular genome. The multiple genes encoded by HIV-1 are expressed from the same promoter and their expression is regulated by splicing and ribosomal frameshift. The full-length HIV-1 RNA plays a central role in viral replication as it serves as the genome in the progeny virus and is used as the template for Gag and GagPol translation. In this review, we summarize findings that contribute to our current understanding of how full-length RNA is expressed and transported, cis- and trans-acting elements important for RNA packaging, the locations and timing of RNA:RNA and RNA:Gag interactions, and the processes required for this RNA to be packaged into viral particles.

Keywords: Full-length RNA; Gag; HIV-1; RNA dimerization; RNA export; RNA packaging; RNA transcription and processing; RRE; Retrovirus; Rev; Virus assembly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Virion / metabolism*
  • Virus Assembly*


  • RNA, Viral