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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000163.txt from 1999/01

From: Grant Green <>
Subj: Re: [kl] huh?
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 09:21:50 -0500

At 05:16 AM 1/6/1999 GMT, you wrote:
>A retrovirus is a virus that reproduces by inserting its genetic
>material into the host cell, whose normal function is thus hijacked into
>producing more of the virus. As I understand it, it's called a
>retrovirus because it contains an enzyme called reverse transcriptase,
>hence re-verse tr-anscriptase virus --> re-tr-ovirus. The HIV virus is
>such a virus.

Pretty close. There are DNA viruses and RNA viruses, and some of the RNA
viruses are retroviruses. All viruses insert their genetic material into a
host cell and hijack its protein production machinery. The difference
between retroviruses and other viruses is that retroviruses contain RNA
(instead of DNA), *and* contain reverse transcriptase which transcribes the
RNA into DNA. The resulting DNA can then be read by the cell's normal
machinery, and (worse yet) can end up being integrated into the cell's DNA.
This is "reverse" transcription because "normally" RNA is transcribed from
DNA, but DNA is never transcribed from RNA.

There are other RNA viruses that don't use reverse transcriptase, and just
make copies of their RNA directly (these are not retroviruses).

Now, everyone, close your books, and take out a clean sheet of paper and a
No. 2 pencil.....


Grant Green
Just filling in on sarrusophone.......

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