An introduction to Retroviruses: Replication Strategy and Genetics by Jonathan Stoye,
Medical Research Council, National Institute for Medical Research London UK.
It is now almost exactly 100 years since the first descriptions of the association
between the group of viruses we now call
retroviruses and the experimental induction of cancer in chickens.
These initial observations by Ellerman and Bang and by
Peyton Rous have prompted a century long search into how these viruses cause disease.
During this time has come the discovery of
a key retroviral enzyme, reverse transcriptase,
with its profound effects both on the understanding and practice of molecular biology.
The identification of oncogene and
associated insights into the processes of normal and the aplastic cellular proliferation.
The development of a technology, retroviral vectors,
that promises to provide a novel means of
therapy for both inherited and acquired diseases,
as well as the emergence of a novel virus within the human population.
The virus we now call HIV,
which is responsible for the AIDS epidemic.
The understanding of retroviral replication was vital to these advances.
My purpose today is to provide an introduction to
the retroviral lifecycle and how this process can affect the infected cell or organism.
Many workers have contributed to the field and I
will not in general credit advances to specific individuals.