What makes viral replication unique?

1 Answer
May 18, 2017

Viral replication allows for more mutations, possibly ones beneficial to the virus, to occur.


Retroviruses, such as HIV, contains single-stranded RNA as genetic material. They need to first convert this RNA to DNA by using reverse transcriptase. This DNA can then be transcribed to mRNA that will eventually lead to the production of proteins.

Retroviruses are unique because they need to copy the genetic material twice--once when the RNA is converted to DNA, and another time when DNA is converted to messenger RNA. Each time genetic material is copied, there is a small chance that a mutation would occur, and some mutations can benefit the virus (for example, it could code for a protein that allows the the virus to better evade the immune response. Since retroviruses replicate the genetic material twice, there is a greater chance for beneficial mutations to occur.