Is it impossible for retroviruses to be lysogenic? In the lysogenic cycle, the viral genetic material is incorporated into the host cell's DNA. Because retroviruses have RNA, it would be impossible for their genetic material to be incorporated into the host cell's DNA, unless the RNA is reverse-transcribed or something.

Is this the case? How does this work?



  • $\begingroup$ Sorry! I phrased the question completely wrong -- I managed to confuse myself with my own question! $\endgroup$
    – evamvid
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


Both things are not exclusive of each other. Retroviruses are RNA-based viruses which need to reverse transcribe their RNA genome into DNA before they can multiply. This is done by the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is part of the virus and is incorporated into the cell.

Once the reverse transcriptase has been active and made the DNA, this DNA can also be incorporated into the hosts genome. If you look into the Wikipedia article on Bacteriophages, you will find a list of different bacteriophages, with all kind of genomes, among them as well a number of RNA-based viruses.

RNA-based viruses which enter the lysogenic pathway are obviously either pretty rare or they haven't been discovered yet in bigger numbers. Two examples are the phages F2 and MS2 (which are closely related).

  • $\begingroup$ Are there any RNA phages that exhibit lysogeny? $\endgroup$
    – Alan Boyd
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, there are a few. I added two references. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 13:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .