Cross- and co-packaging of retroviral RNAs and their consequences

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Retroviruses belong to the family Retroviridae and are ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles that contain a dimeric RNA genome. Retroviral particle assembly is a complex process, and how the virus is able to recognize and specifically capture the genomic RNA (gRNA) among millions of other cellular and spliced retroviral RNAs has been the subject of extensive investigation over the last two decades. The specificity towards RNA packaging requires higher order interactions of the retroviral gRNA with the structural Gag proteins. Moreover, several retroviruses have been shown to have the ability to cross-/co-package gRNA from other retroviruses, despite little sequence homology. This review will compare the determinants of gRNA encapsidation among different retroviruses, followed by an examination of our current understanding of the interaction between diverse viral genomes and heterologous proteins, leading to their cross-/co-packaging. Retroviruses are well-known serious animal and human pathogens, and such a cross-/co-packaging phenomenon could result in the generation of novel viral variants with unknown pathogenic potential. At the same time, however, an enhanced understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in these specific interactions makes retroviruses an attractive target for anti-viral drugs, vaccines, and vectors for human gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number276
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 11 2016


  • Cross-/co-packaging
  • Dimerization
  • Gag proteins
  • Genomic RNA
  • Nucleocapsid (NC)
  • Packaging signal
  • Psi
  • RNA packaging
  • Recombination
  • Retroviruses
  • Viral variants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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