Current research in Virology & Retrovirology

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is grouped to the genus Lentivirus within the family of Retroviridae, subfamily Orthoretrovirinae. On the basis of genetic characteristics and differences in the viral antigens, HIV is classified into the types 1 and 2 (HIV-1, HIV-2). The immunodeficiency viruses of non-human primates (simian immunodeficiency virus, SIV) are also grouped to the genus Lent virus. Epidemiologic and phylogenetic analyses currently available imply that HIV was introduced into the human population around 1920 to 1940. HIV-1 evolved from non-human primate immunodeficiency viruses from Central African chimpanzees (SIVcpz) and HIV-2 from West African sooty mangabeys (SIVsm). The HIV genome consists of two identical single-stranded RNA molecules that are enclosed within the core of the virus particle. The genome of the HIV provirus, also known as proviral DNA, is generated by the reverse transcription of the viral RNA genome into DNA, degradation of the RNA and integration of the double-stranded HIV DNA into the human genome. The DNA genome is flanked at both ends by LTR (long terminal repeat) sequences. The 5′ LTR region codes for the promotor for transcription of the viral genes. In the direction 5′ to 3′ the reading frame of the gag gene follows, encoding the proteins of the outer core membrane (MA, p17), the capsid protein (CA, p24), the nucleocapsid (NC, p7) and a smaller, nucleic acid-stabilising protein.

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