When viral RNA is translated into a polypeptide sequence, that sequence is assembled in a long chain that includes several individual proteins (reverse transcriptase, protease, integrase). Before these enzymes become functional, they must be cut from the longer polypeptide chain. Viral protease cuts the long chain into its individual enzyme components which then facilitate the production of new viruses.
Inhibitors of this viral protease can be used to fight HIV infection. By blocking the ability of the protease to cleave the viral polypeptide into functional enzymes, protease inhibitors interfere with continued infection.
Mutations enable HIV to avoid treatments that involve only one drug, so there is growing use of multiple-drug therapies in which both a protease inhibitor AND a reverse transcript inhibitor are combined.
2. REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION
From viral RNA to DNA
3. INTEGRATION, TRANSCRIPTION
a. Viral DNA joins host DNA
b. Making multiple viral RNAs