Mechanisms associated with the generation of biologically active human immunodeficiency virus type 1 particles from defective proviruses

Masahiro Inoue, James A. Hoxie, M. V. Ramana Reddy, A. Srinivasan, E. Premkumar Reddy

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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the etiological agent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV exhibits extensive genetic diversity and it is apparent that an infected individual contains different populations of distinct viral strains, a large proportion of which has been found surprisingly to be defective for replication. A similar phenomenon has also been observed with some cell lines that are known to produce infectious viral particles but harbor defective proviral genomes. Here, we investigated the molecular basis of this phenomenon by cloning proviral genomes of HIV from a cell line that was capable of producing high titers of biologically active HIV particles that readily induced syncytia with CD4+ cell lines and peripheral blood lymphocytes. This cell line was found to contain five proviral genomes, all of which, when tested individually, failed to produce replication-competent viruses upon transfection into human cells. However, when a specific combination of two proviral genomes was used in such transfection studies, it was possible to obtain biologically active, replication-competent viral particles that infected and replicated in CD4+ cell lines and induced syncytia characteristic of HIV. Such a result may be due to homologous recombination between proviral DNAs occurring in cells after transfection and/or complementation of replication-defective proviral DNAs. The diploid nature of the viral RNA genome present in the viral particle may enable the persistence of defective HIV genomes. (.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2278-2282
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Complementation
  • Defective proviral DNA
  • Recombination


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