Reverse Transcriptase - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics

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Discovery

Retroviruses were originally known as RNA tumor viruses because they have RNA, not DNA, genomes, and because they were the first viruses recognized to cause certain cancers in animals. At the middle of the twentieth century, Howard Temin was interested in understanding how RNA tumor viruses cause cancer. One finding that interested him was the genetic-like stability of the uncontrolled cell growth caused by these viruses. It was known then that certain bacterial viruses, called phages, could integrate their DNA into their hosts' chromosomes and persist as stable genetic elements known as prophages. By analogy, Temin proposed the provirus hypothesis, which suggests that RNA tumor viruses can cause permanent alterations to cells by integrating into host chromosomes. In order for this to occur, Temin suggested that virion RNAs were first converted into DNAs, which could then become integrated.

The chemistry of using RNA as a template for...

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This section contains 1,099 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
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Macmillan Science Library: Genetics
Reverse Transcriptase from Macmillan Science Library: Genetics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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