Reciprocal cross-packaging of primate lentiviral (HIV-1 and SIV) RNAs by heterologous non-lentiviral MPMV proteins

Iman Rashed Al Shamsi, Noura Salem Al Dhaheri, Pretty Susan Phillip, Farah Mustafa, Tahir A. Rizvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Retroviral RNA packaging signal (ψ) allows the preferential packaging of genomic RNA into virus particles through its interaction with the nucleocapsid protein. The specificity of this interaction came into question when it was shown that primate retroviruses, such as HIV-1, could cross-package RNA from its simian cousin, SIV, and vice versa and that feline retrovirus, FIV could cross-package RNA from a distantly related primate retrovirus, MPMV. To study the generality of this phenomenon further, we determined whether there is a greater packaging restriction between the lentiviral class of retroviruses (HIV-1 and SIV) and a non-lentivirus, MPMV. Our results revealed that primate lentiviral RNAs can be cross-packaged by primate non-lentiviral particles reciprocally, but the cross-packaged RNAs could not be propagated by the heterologous particles. Packaging of RNA in the context of both retroviral vectors as well as non-retroviral RNA containing SIV, HIV, and MPMV packaging determinants by each others proteins further confirmed the specificity of cross-packaging conferred by the packaging sequences. These results reveal the promiscuous nature of retroviral packaging determinants and raise caution against their wide spread presence on retroviral vectors to be used for human gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-357
Number of pages6
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Gene therapy
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1)
  • Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (MPMV)
  • RNA cross-packaging
  • Retroviral vectors
  • Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cancer Research


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