Retroviral E-DNA: persistence and gene expression in nondividing immune cells.
Following retroviral infection of cells, not only is the proviral DNA integrated into the host genome, but there is also an accumulation of unintegrated extrachromosomal DNA (E-DNA), both linear and circular. Although the integrated DNA is responsible for the production of viral proteins and new viral progeny, the role of E-DNA has remained uncertain. Several reports have shown that E-DNA is transcriptionally active producing both RNA, as well as viral proteins and that circular E-DNA can persist in nondividing cells, raising questions regarding the potential consequences of this reservoir. Furthermore, integrase inhibitors, presently in clinical trials, shifts the balance of proviral DNA to the E-DNA form. This review is focused on recent work in this field with an emphasis on exploring the potential role of E-DNA in both pathogenesis of retroviral infections, especially HIV-1, and as a tool to deliver and express genes.
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