The Molecules of HIV

Note: this site last updated in 2006

HIV genome

An article from "The Molecules of HIV" (c) Dan Stowell
www.mcld.co.uk/hiv

The full HIV genome is encoded on one long strand of RNA. (In a free virus particle, there are actually two separate strands of RNA, but they're exactly the same!)

This is the form it has when it is a free virus particle. When the virus is integrated into the host's DNA genome (as a provirus) then its information too is encoded in DNA.

The following image shows roughly how the genes are laid out in HIV (remember that HIV-1 and HIV-2 are quite different). Click on a gene's name for more information.

A rough map of the genomic layout of HIV

This diagram is based on a fantastic map of the HIV-1, HIV-2, and SIV genomes, available at
hiv-web.lanl.gov/content/immunology/pdf/2000/intro/GenomeMaps.pdf

 

The genes in HIV's genome are as follows:

  • gag (coding for the viral capsid proteins)
  • pol (notably, coding for reverse transcriptase)
  • (NB. gag and pol together can be expressed in one long strand called "gag-pol")
  • env (coding for HIV's envelope-associated proteins)
  • And the regulatory genes:
  • tat
  • rev
  • nef
  • vif
  • vpr
  • vpu (N.B. not present in HIV-2)
  • vpx (N.B. not present in HIV-1)

The HIV genome also has a "Long Terminal Repeat" (LTR) at each end of its genome - not quite a gene, but a sequence of RNA/DNA which is the same at either end and which serves some structural and regulatory purposes.

Written by
Dan Stowell
(©2002-2006)

Creative Commons License