Structural and functional organization of the HIV1 genome

The HIV virion contains two identical copies of single-stranded RNA, 9.2 kb in length, of positive polarity with respect to translation. The proviral DNA resulting from reverse transcriptase has three genes which code for the virion structural proteins: gag, pol and env encoding the core proteins, enzymes for viral replications, and the envelope glycoproteins, respectively. Each gene product is initially synthesized as a high molecular weight polyprotein precursor which is subsequently proteolytically cleaved to yield the final, smaller structural components of the virus.

The genome (Figure 2) contains at least nine genes, flanked by long terminal repeat sequences (l.TR) containing promoters of gene expression and specific enhancer elements which control viral gene expression and which are themselves influenced by cellular transcriptional proteins.

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