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​Retrovirus

updated: September 23, 2022

Definition

A retrovirus is a virus that uses RNA as its genomic material. Upon infection with a retrovirus, a cell converts the retroviral RNA into DNA, which in turn is inserted into the DNA of the host cell. The cell then produces more retroviruses, which infect other cells. Many retroviruses are associated with diseases, including AIDS and some forms of cancer.

 retrovirus


Narration

Retrovirus. Retrovirus sounds a lot like retrofitted, doesn't it? Well, they kind of are, since they work backwards from what we expect in biology. Also, researchers have found that retroviruses might be almost half a billion years old. How wild is that?

Prabarna Ganguly
Prabarna Ganguly, Ph.D.

Science Writer/Editor

Office of Communications