HIV Replication Cycle

Credit: NIAID

This infographic illustrates the HIV replication cycle, which begins when HIV fuses with the surface of the host cell. A capsid containing the virus’s genome and proteins then enters the cell. The shell of the capsid disintegrates and the HIV protein called reverse transcriptase transcribes the viral RNA into DNA. The viral DNA is transported across the nucleus, where the HIV protein integrase integrates the HIV DNA into the host’s DNA. The host’s normal transcription machinery transcribes HIV DNA into multiple copies of new HIV RNA. Some of this RNA becomes the genome of a new virus, while the cell uses other copies of the RNA to make new HIV proteins. The new viral RNA and HIV proteins move to the surface of the cell, where a new, immature HIV forms. Finally, the virus is released from the cell, and the HIV protein called protease cleaves newly synthesized polyproteins to create a mature infectious virus.

Content last reviewed on May 23, 2017