Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Entering and breaking for HIV?

As a retrovirus, HIV needs to deliver its genome to the nucleus and reverse transcribe it before integration. There is a longstanding debate, with various, often contradictory results, about when and where the capsid that surrounds the HIV genome disassembles, that is, ‘uncoats’. Burdick et al. now suggest that uncoating only happens after HIV has entered the nucleus and reverse transcribed its genome, delivering it close to integration sites. They labelled capsid with GFP by inserting the fluorescent marker between matrix and capsid and mutating a protease cleavage site to avoid loss of the marker. When they tracked labelled viral cores, they found, in contrast to previous studies that had suggested uncoating in the cytoplasm, that cores remained intact or nearly intact until they had reached their nuclear destination. Furthermore, their results suggest that interaction with the host protein cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor 6 supports entry through nuclear pores. Once in the nucleus, reverse transcription happened inside the cores, and viral DNA was only released shortly before integration, potentially protecting it from innate DNA sensing.


Original article

  1. Burdick, R. C. et al. HIV-1 uncoats in the nucleus near sites of integration. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2020)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ursula Hofer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hofer, U. Entering and breaking for HIV?. Nat Rev Microbiol 18, 264 (2020).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing