Lentivirus Knowledge base
Lentivirus (lente-, Latin for “slow”) is a genus of retroviruses, causing chronic and deadly diseases by long incubation periods in human or other mammalian species . The virion is a medium-sized (80-100nm) and enveloped, slightly pleomorphic, spherical with an isometric nucleocapsid containing two copies of positive-sense ssRNA genome.
As a research tool used to introduce a gene product into in vitro systems or animal models, lentiviral vector has been put into large-scale efforts to down-regulate or up-regulate gene expression in high-throughput formats, allowing researchers to examine the necessity and effects of transgenes in disease model systems, which is an indispensable for the discovery of novel transgenic drugs.
Lentivirus has been developed as an attractive candidate for creating viral vectors for gene therapy due to various advantages.
Lentivirus, as represented by HIV-1, is a medium-sized (80-100nm) and enveloped, slightly pleomorphic, spherical virus with an isometric nucleocapsid (Figure1A). Unlike other retroviruses, HIV-1 is featured by a set of additional regulatory and accessory genes.
The life cycle of HIV-1 starts with viral entry, in which process the virus binds to the CD4 receptor or a coreceptor (CCR5 or CXCR4) with gp120 protein, thereby anchoring itself onto host cell surface, allowing fusion between the cellular and viral membranes.
Since wild-type HIV-1 based lentivirus is associated with destruction of host immune system, especially CD4+ helper T lymphocytes, multiple generations of lentivirus vectors have been designed with enhanced safety features and as attractive vectors for gene therapy.