Visualization of the intracellular behavior of HIV in living cells

David McDonald, Marie A. Vodicka, Ginger Lucero, Tatyana M. Svitkina, Gary G. Borisy, Michael Emerman, Thomas J. Hope*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

656 Scopus citations


To track the behavior of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 in the cytoplasm of infected cells, we have tagged virions by incorporation of HIV Vpr fused to the GFP. Observation of the GFP-labeled particles in living cells revealed that they moved in curvilinear paths in the cytoplasm and accumulated in the perinuclear region, often near the microtubule-organizing center. Further studies show that HIV uses cytoplasmic dynein and the microtubule network to migrate toward the nucleus. By combining GFP fused to the NH2 terminus of HIV-1 Vpr tagging with other labeling techniques, it was possible to determine the state of progression of individual particles through the viral life cycle. Correlation of immunofluorescent and electron micrographs allowed high resolution imaging of microtubule-associated structures that are proposed to be reverse transcription complexes. Based on these observations, we propose that HIV uses dynein and the microtubule network to facilitate the delivery of the viral genome to the nucleus of the cell during early postentry steps of the HIV life cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-452
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 11 2002


  • Dynein
  • Electron microscopy
  • Fluorescent microscopy
  • HIV-1
  • Reverse transcription complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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