The Structure and Function of Retroviral Long Terminal Repeats

  • J. Majors
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 157)


During the natural course of reverse transcription, sequences from the 5′ (R-U5) and 3′ (U3-R) ends of retroviral genomic RNA are fused through the direct repeat sequence, R, and duplicated to form a linear duplex molecule with long terminal repeats (LTRs). Subsequent insertion of this molecule into a site within the chromosomal DNA of an infected host cell allows the viral DNA to function as a template for the transcription of new viral RNA molecules. Synthesis of these molecules is catalyzed by the host RNA polymerase II and initiates at the U3-R border. The 3′-ends of these molecules are generated by cleavage and polyA addition at the R-U5 boundary. A direct consequence of this pathway is that sequences immediately upstream from the transcription start are virus-coded and derive from the 3′-end of viral RNA. By analogy with the structures of cellular pol II promoters, elements which instruct the host polymerase when and where to initiate viral RNA synthesis should lie within these upstream sequences. The central role in viral replication of this host-dependent transcription step and the broad spectrum of host cell-specific transcription patterns mean that many biological properties of retroviruses will be determined by sequences within the LTR.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type Long Terminal Repeat Leukemia Virus Terminal Repeat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Majors
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiophysicsWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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