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HIV Mutation
Sep 29, 2008

At what point in the HIV life cycle does the mutation occur? Does the mutation occur before the HIV reaches the nucleous or after?

Response from Dr. McGowan

The genetic material of HIV is in the form of RNA. Our genes are made from DNA. In order for the virus to be able to complete it's life cycle, it must convert it's RNA gene into a DNA gene. This is done by a protein that the virus carries with it called Reverse Transcriptase. Mutations occur when Reverse Transcriptase converts the gene from RNA to DNA. This happens in the cytoplasm, before the virus enters the nucleus of the cell.

Joe


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