The HIV lifecycle begins with the interaction of a virus particle with a receptor on the surface of a cell (step 1), which leads to fusion of the viral and cellular membranes (step 2) and deposition of the viral contents into the cell (step 3). The viral RNA genome is reverse transcribed resulting in DNA copy, which is imported into the nucleus (step 5). Within the nucleus, the viral DNA is integrated into the host cell genome (step 6). The virus may now enter a period of latency. The late stages of the viral life cycle begin when the viral genome is transcribed from within the host genome (step 7), exported from the nucleus (step 8) and translation of the viral proteins by host cell machinery begins (step 9). The major structural protein, Gag, is transported to the plasma membrane where it directs assembly of the viral coat, and incorporates other viral proteins and the viral genome (step 10). The virus buds through the cell membrane (step 11), and Gag is cleaved by the viral protease in five places. This leads to a structural change of the virion into its mature infectious form (step 12), which is capable of fusing with a new susceptible cell.
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