The key difference between lentivirus and retrovirus is that lentivirus is a type of retrovirus while retrovirus is an RNA virus that contains the enzyme reverse transcriptase to convert RNA genome into DNA prior to insertion into the host organism.
Furthermore, retroviruses are a group of viruses that belong to family Retroviridae. In this family, there are seven genera: Alpharetrovirus, Betaretrovirus, Gammaretrovirus, Deltaretrovirus, Epsilonretrovirus, Lentivirus and Spumavirus. Hence, lentiviruses are a type of retroviruses.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is a Virus
3. What is Lentivirus
4. What is Retrovirus
5. Similarities Between Lentivirus and Retrovirus
6. Side by Side Comparison – Lentivirus vs Retrovirus in Tabular Form
What is a Virus?
Viruses are obligate parasites. Though viruses have a genetic element, they lack several key features of living organisms such as cell structures and independent replication. Hence, they belong to the non-living category. Humans have concern about viruses due to their disease-producing potential. Some examples for disease-causing viruses include Hepadnavirus, Herpes simplex virus, HIV, Enterovirus, and Filoviruses and the diseases they cause include Hepatitis B (viral), Herpes, AIDS, Polio, and Ebola, respectively.
All viruses contain a nucleic acid enclosed in a protein coat. These particles do not have a cytoplasm. The nucleic acid present in the viruses can be either DNA or RNA, and their genome is linear or circular; single-stranded or double-stranded. Moreover, depending on their symmetry, viruses can be bihelical, icosahedral, binal, and polymorphic. Based on the type of nucleic acid, there are different categories of viruses.
What is Lentivirus?
Lentivirus is a genus that comes under the Family Retroviridae. It is a type of retroviruses that cause chronic and deadly diseases characterized by a long incubation period. Lentivirus is an enveloped virus which is pleomorphic.
The lentivirus genus contains several well-known viruses as Bovine immunodeficiency virus, Equine infectious anemia virus, Feline immunodeficiency virus, Puma lentivirus, Caprine arthritis encephalitis virus and Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1).
What is Retrovirus?
Retrovirus is an RNA virus. However, unlike other RNA viruses, retrovirus possesses the unique ability to reverse transcribe its RNA genome into a double-stranded DNA. It is due to the enzyme reverse transcriptase present in retroviruses. After transforming into DNA, viral DNA integrates with the host DNA. Thus, this unique ability has been used to develop certain applications like gene therapy of inherited diseases. Unlike most other viruses, retrovirus vectors are capable of infecting a wide variety of cells. Because of this ability, retrovirus has been widely applied in clinical trials and cancer vaccine strategies. Retroviruses infect actively dividing cells.
Furthermore, in viral taxonomy, retrovirus comes under Family Retroviridae, which include two subfamilies and seven genera. Some examples of retroviruses are leukemia virus, HIV-1, mouse mammary tumor virus, etc.
What are the Similarities Difference Between Lentivirus and Retrovirus?
- Lentivirus is a type of retrovirus.
- Hence, both lentivirus and retrovirus are RNA viruses.
- Moreover, they are enveloped viruses.
- Also, they possess the enzyme reverse transcriptase.
- Both have the ability to convert the RNA genome into DNA.
- Besides, they cause chronic and deadly diseases to human and other mammalian species.
What is the Difference Between Lentivirus and Retrovirus?
Lentivirus is a genus of family Retroviridae that includes retroviruses. However, a retrovirus is an RNA virus that can convert its RNA genome into DNA. So, this is the key difference between lentivirus and retrovirus. Lentivirus can infect non-dividing cells, unlike other retroviruses. Thus, this is a significant difference between lentivirus and retrovirus.
Furthermore, lentivirus has two regulatory genes: tat and rev, which are not present in other retroviruses. Therefore, this is another difference between lentivirus and retrovirus.
Below infographic shows a summary of the difference between lentivirus and retrovirus.
Summary – Lentivirus vs Retrovirus
Retroviruses are viruses that contain an RNA genome. However, unlike other RNA viruses, retroviruses possess a unique ability to convert its RNA genome into DNA. And, this ability is due to the presence of the enzyme reverse transcriptase. The enzyme converts RNA into DNA and then the virus is able to integrate viral DNA into the host genome. Furthermore, retroviruses belong to family Retroviridae. In this family, there are seven genera of retroviruses. Lentiviruses are one genus of the retroviruses. Thus, this is a summary of the difference between lentivirus and retrovirus.
1. “Retrovirus.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1 Mar. 2019, Available here.
2. Coffin, John M. “The Place of Retroviruses in Biology.” Retroviruses., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1997, Available here.
1. “ShRNA Lentivirus” By Dan Cojocari Own, This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Adobe Illustrator (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Hiv gross” By Translated by Raul654 – Originally from GFDL image Image:Hiv gross german.png (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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