Of Mice and Men

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Science  02 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5680, pp. 21
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5680.21a

An enigma of HIV biology has been the inability of infected rodent cells to support virus replication—meaning the production of correctly assembled viral particles. The viral gag-pol messenger RNA (mRNA) uses the viral protein Rev (which binds to the Rev response element within the mRNA) to bind to the nuclear export factor Crm1, but even though the mRNA is translated into Gag in the cytosol, the resulting protein is not properly localized to the plasma membrane, a step preparatory to the assembly and budding of mature viral particles. By shunting the viral mRNA into the export pathway mediated by the constitutive transport element-NXF1 interaction, Swanson et al. succeed in demonstrating HIV assembly in mouse cells. How the nuclear export of mRNA dictates where (and perhaps in what context) cytosolic translation occurs is unclear, but this finding may help both to establish a rodent model system for studying HIV and to understand the future consequences of early-life marks. — SMH

EMBO J. 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600270 (2004).

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