HIV-1 reverse transcriptase is the enzyme responsible for creating a DNA copy of the HIV viral genome. It uses the viral genome (which is composed of single stranded RNA) as a template to create a double stranded DNA copy of the viral genome so that it can be incorporated into the host cell and use the host cell's machinery to make many copies of itself (Sadava et al., 2008). This enzyme has DNA polymerase activity for creating a DNA copy of the viral genome and ribonuclease H (RNase H) activity for cleaving the viral template ssRNA after it has been copied (Rodgers et al., 1995).
Ribonuclease (commonly abbreviated RNase) is a type of nuclease that catalyzes the degradation of RNA into smaller components.
The genomic region encoding the viral enzymes protease, reverse transcriptase, and integrase. These enzymes are produced as a Gag-Pol precursor polyprotein, which is processed by the viral protease; the Gag-Pol precursor is produced by ribosome frameshifting near the 3' end of gag.
Viral glycoproteins produced as a precursor (gp160), which is processed to give a noncovalent complex of the external glycoprotein gp120 and the transmembrane glycoprotein gp41. The mature gp120-gp41 proteins are bound by non-covalent interactions and are associated as a trimer on the cell surface. A substantial amount of gp120 can be found released in the medium. gp120 contains the binding site for the CD4 receptor, and the seven transmembrane domain chemokine receptors that serve as co-receptors for HIV-1.