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The HIV virus can remain dormant in the human body for up to ten years after primary infection; during this period the virus does not cause symptoms.
Alternatively, the integrated viral DNA may be transcribed, producing new RNA genomes and viral proteins, using host cell resources, that are packaged and released from the cell as new virus particles that will begin the replication cycle anew.
The Psi element is involved in viral genome packaging and recognized by gag and rev proteins.
The SLIP element ( This CCR5 co-receptor is used by almost all primary HIV-1 isolates regardless of viral genetic subtype.
Upon entry into the target cell, the viral RNA genome is converted (reverse transcribed) into double-stranded DNA by a virally encoded enzyme, reverse transcriptase, that is transported along with the viral genome in the virus particle.
The resulting viral DNA is then imported into the cell nucleus and integrated into the cellular DNA by a virally encoded enzyme, integrase, and host co-factors.
The rev protein (p19) is involved in shuttling RNAs from the nucleus and the cytoplasm by binding to the RRE RNA element.
The six remaining genes, tat, rev, nef, vif, vpr, and vpu (or vpx in the case of HIV-2), are regulatory genes for proteins that control the ability of HIV to infect cells, produce new copies of virus (replicate), or cause disease.
The two tat proteins (p16 and p14) are transcriptional transactivators for the LTR promoter acting by binding the TAR RNA element.
Due to its relatively poor capacity for transmission, HIV-2 is largely confined to West Africa.
The single-stranded RNA is tightly bound to nucleocapsid proteins, p7, and enzymes needed for the development of the virion such as reverse transcriptase, proteases, ribonuclease and integrase.The viral envelope contains proteins from the host cell and relatively few copies of the HIV Envelope protein, The Envelope protein, encoded by the HIV env gene, allows the virus to attach to target cells and fuse the viral envelope with the target cell's membrane releasing the viral contents into the cell and initiating the infectious cycle.