Mature reverse transcriptase (p66/p51) is responsible for low levels of viral DNA found in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)

Leukemia. 1994 Apr;8 Suppl 1:S175-8.


Reverse transcription of the HIV RNA genome is thought to occur in the host cell cytoplasm after viral adsorption. However, viral DNA has been isolated in cell-free virus particles. We have quantitated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification the amount of viral DNA in virions as compared to RNA. Virus produced by proviral DNA transfections of cos-7 cells or by chronically-infected H9 cells; neither of which express the cell surface CD4 receptor, contained at least 1000 times more viral RNA than DNA. In contrast, only 60 times more RNA than DNA was present in virus particles produced by transfection of Jurkat cells, which were CD4-positive and thus potentially susceptible to superinfection. Protease-defective virus, carrying only the precursor of reverse transcriptase (RT) p160gag-pol, contained virtually no detectable DNA. These results indicate that only mature RT (p66/p51) and not its precursor (p160gag-pol) is responsible for the presence of viral DNA in HIV.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / physiology*


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA, Viral
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase