Table of Contents
Molecular Biology International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 682850, 11 pages
Review Article

Retroviral Env Glycoprotein Trafficking and Incorporation into Virions

AIDS Research Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Toyama 1-23-1, Shinjuku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan

Received 29 February 2012; Revised 8 May 2012; Accepted 31 May 2012

Academic Editor: Abdul A. Waheed

Copyright © 2012 Tsutomu Murakami. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Together with the Gag protein, the Env glycoprotein is a major retroviral structural protein and is essential for forming infectious virus particles. Env is synthesized, processed, and transported to certain microdomains at the plasma membrane and takes advantage of the same host machinery for its trafficking as that used by cellular glycoproteins. Incorporation of Env into progeny virions is probably mediated by the interaction between Env and Gag, in some cases with the additional involvement of certain host factors. Although several general models have been proposed to explain the incorporation of retroviral Env glycoproteins into virions, the actual mechanism for this process is still unclear, partly because structural data on the Env protein cytoplasmic tail is lacking. This paper presents the current understanding of the synthesis, trafficking, and virion incorporation of retroviral Env proteins.