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Wrapping up the bad news – HIV assembly and release

Bo Meng and Andrew ML Lever*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom

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Retrovirology 2013, 10:5  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-10-5

Published: 10 January 2013


The late Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar once memorably described viruses as ‘bad news wrapped in protein’. Virus assembly in HIV is a remarkably well coordinated process in which the virus achieves extracellular budding using primarily intracellular budding machinery and also the unusual phenomenon of export from the cell of an RNA. Recruitment of the ESCRT system by HIV is one of the best documented examples of the comprehensive way in which a virus hijacks a normal cellular process. This review is a summary of our current understanding of the budding process of HIV, from genomic RNA capture through budding and on to viral maturation, but centering on the proteins of the ESCRT pathway and highlighting some recent advances in our understanding of the cellular components involved and the complex interplay between the Gag protein and the genomic RNA.

HIV; Budding; Assembly; ESCRT; ALIX; NEDD