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Reverse transcriptase

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Crystallographic structure of HIV reversed transcriptase

Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme used to generate a complementary strand of DNA (cDNA) on an RNA template, a process called reverse transcription.[1]


Howard Temin in the 1960s proposed a hypothesis of a DNA intermediate in retroviral replication.[2] Howard Temin and David Baltimore discovered independently the Reverse transcriptase enzyme and both, along with Renato Dulbecco, were recipients of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.[2]


Reverse transcriptase has important applications in molecular biology, including reverse trancription-polymerase chain reaction and the compilation of cDNA libraries.[3]

Retrovirus infecting cell and using reverse transcriptase


  1. Alberts, Bruce; Johnson, Alexander; Lewis, Julian; Raff, Martin; Roberts, Keith; Walters, Peter (2008). Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th ed.). New York and London: Garland Science. p. 542. ISBN 0-8153-4105-9. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dimmock, N. J.; Easton, A. J.; Leppard, K. N. (2007). "8: The Process of Infection: IIC. The Replication of RNA Viruses with a DNA Intermediate and Vice Versa". Introduction to Modern Virology (6th ed.). Malden, MA/Garsington Road, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. p. 115. ISBN 1-4051-3645-6. 
  3. Carter, John; Saunders, Venetia (2007). Virology: Principles and Applications. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-470-02387-7.