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An article from "The Molecules of HIV" (c) Dan Stowell
A retrovirus carries its genome as RNA rather than DNA (DNA being the "ordinary" carrier for a genetic code). One of the proteins encoded by the retroviral genome is an unusual enzyme called reverse%20transcriptase">reverse transcriptase, which transcribes RNA into DNA. With this enzyme HIV can create viral DNA when it enters a cell, and the viral DNA can then go on to be integrated into the host genome.
Reverse transcriptase is an unusual enzyme because its function is not needed by most organisms - human cells don't have their own reverse%20transcriptase">reverse transcriptase enzymes, for example. This makes reverse%20transcriptase%20inhibitors">reverse%20transcriptase">reverse transcriptase inhibitors a prime idea for HIV therapy!