Give us the "HIV" "structure", please. 11 October 2004
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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos,
Biophysicist
Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, 6001,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso, Sam Mhlongo, Todd Miller, Christian Fiala

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Re: Give us the "HIV" "structure", please.

Give us the "HIV" "structure", please.

 

In his rapid response, "Relative values", 29 September, Nicholas Bennett wrote:  "As regards their ignorance of retroelements, it would be obvious to anyone who knew their genetic makeup that they include many of the features of exogenous retroviruses:  tRNA primer sites, poly A tails, transcription/translation signals etc etc etc.  Practically the only consistent lack is a packaging signal on the RNA or an envelope gene (but syncitin of course is the prime example of a retroelement that contributes an envelope gene to normal human physiology)".

 

If this is the case, then why are the answers to four of our 5 questions in our rapid response, "Five questions to Nicholas Bennett", 21 September, no?  (Nicholas Bennett's rapid response, "Re: Five questions to Nicholas Bennett", 23 September).  If the retroviral poly(A)-RNA can be reverse transcribed, the cDNA integrated into the cellular genome, then transcribed into poly(A)-RNA and translated (the proviral theory of retroviruses) why, given the right conditions, the same thing cannot happen with cellular poly(A)-RNA?

 

What specific properties do the retroviral poly(A)-RNAs have which cannot be found in cellular poly(A)-RNAs?

 

In his rapid response. "Re: Five questions to Nicholas Bennett", 23 September, Nicholas Bennett wrote:  "One of the intellectual attractions of retroviruses, to me, was that they were able to do all of this and produce an RNA/lipid/protein structure that could do it all again.  And all with only 9 genes…"

 

We assumed that by "structure" Nicholas Bennett meant HIV-1 particles and in our rapid response, "More on Nicholas Bennett's "HIV" infectious molecular clone", 28 September, we asked for such evidence.

 

Since Nicholas Bennett has not responded, we repeat our request.  Would Nicholas Bennett please give us one major study and a few confirmatory studies showing that the introduction of the "HIV" RNA into a cell leads to the production of "an RNA/lipid/protein structure" (?viral particle).  That is, would Nicholas Bennett please provide evidence for the existence of an "HIV-1 infectious molecular clone" as defined by Brian Foley (not by us):  "The clone must produce virus particles that are identical by serology, morphology, protein sequences, RFLP, Southern blotting, etc., to the parental virus, and the particles must also be infectious.  If a cloned viral genome does not meet these criteria, it is not an INFECTIOUS molecular clone of the virus, be it HIV-1 or any other virus" (Brian Foley's emphasis).

Competing interests: None declared