The life cycle of HIV-1 involves a series of steps necessary for the successful infection of human target cells. First the RNA genome enters the cytoplasm after the fusion of the viral membrane and that of the target cell. The RNA genome is then converted to DNA form through the process of reverse transcription. The DNA genome is then integrated into the host cell DNA. Next, viral proteins and more copies of the viral genome are produced. These components assemble to form new virions that are then able to propagate. The cellular proteins involved in HIV-1 entry have been known for more than a decade now and the study of the cellular and viral components involved in HIV-1 entry has led to the development of many therapeutic strategies and drugs designed to block viral replication. Recently, there have been significant advances in the understanding of HIV-1 assembly as a consequence of the identification of the cellular factors that mediate this process. This review will provide a basic outline of the current understanding of HIV-1 entry and exit.
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