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Why are eccentric HIV-1 particles non-infectious?

Recent evidence indicates that HIV-1 integrase (IN) plays a key role during particle maturation by binding to the viral RNA genome. Inhibition of IN-RNA interactions yields aberrant particles with the viral ribonucleoprotein complexes (vRNPs) eccentrically localized outside the conical capsid lattice. Although these particles contain all of the components necessary for reverse transcription, they are blocked at an early reverse transcription stage in target cells. To explain the basis of this defect, we tracked the fates of multiple viral components in infected cells. Here we show that the viral RNA genome and IN in eccentric particles are prematurely degraded, whereas reverse transcriptase remains active and stably associated within the capsid lattice. We propose that IN-RNA interactions ensure the packaging of both vRNPs and IN within the protective capsid cores to facilitate subsequent reverse transcription and productive infection in target cells. Read more about the first gem from Kutluay lab:

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