Meet Retrovirus: Choose Retrovirus For A Dance Party That Never Ends!

Posted by Applied Biological Materials (abm) on February 20, 2019

Disco balls, bell bottoms, and perms, oh my! The retrovirus knows how to throw down a dance party with dividing cells. In the fourth addition to our Vectors and Viruses Spotlight Series, we'll introduce you to the retrovirus system, a viral system that only infects dividing cells. Any genes the retrovirus delivers will stick around in the cell long after the party's over. Learn what are the advantages of choosing to use retrovirus in your experiments in the article below!


Retrovirus Character Card

Meet Retrovirus

"Hey there, I’m Lenny’s older brother, Rhett. I’ll admit that we’re pretty similar; both my brother and I like to settle in mammalian genomes, ensuring your gene has lasting expression. But I’m a bit pickier about where I set up shop; I only like to enter dividing cells."


When scientists refer to 'retrovirus' as a gene delivery method, they are usually referring to the subset of retroviruses called gamma-retroviruses. Gamma-retroviruses are distinguished from lentiviruses (another genus within Retroviridae) in that they can only infect dividing cells, while lentiviruses can infect both dividing and non-dividing cells. Learn more about the lentivirus expression system.

The retrovirus is a ssRNA virus with the ability to package 8 kb of genetic material that is integrated into the DNA of dividing cells. This means retroviruses can be used to ensure long term expression in a cell population, since the viral DNA will be replicated along with host DNA when the cell divides. However, retroviruses cannot be used to infect cell types that do not divide frequently, such as neurons or hematopoietic stem cells.

One potential problem with using retroviruses in gene therapy studies is that integration is random and can occur at any point in the host genome. Depending on where integration occurs, it may lead to insertional mutagenesis and oncogenesis.

Choose Retrovirus as your viral delivery system if:
  • You wish to infect only dividing cells.
  • Your expression cassette is smaller than 8 kb.
  • You want your gene integrated into the host genome for long term, stable expression in dividing cells.

About abm's Retroviruses

Looking to work with Retroviruses? Have a look at our selection.

  • Applications: Overexpression
  • Genes available: Over 40,000 human, mouse, and rat genes offered
  • Promoters available: CMV
  • Tags and Reporters available: No tag, GFP, HA

abm offer a genome-wide retrovirus collection of human, mouse, and rat genes in a packaged or unpackaged retrovirus, available with the option of an HA or GFP tag.

Other Retrovirus products and services we offer include:

All of our retroviral products are based off of a replication-incompetent version of Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (MMLV).

Don't know which viral vector to choose?

You know you want to express a gene, but when it comes time to choose an expression vector, your choices can seem overwhelming. Do you go viral or non-viral? Which virus should you use? Or maybe it's not a protein you need to express, but an RNA species?

Try using our Vector Selection Tool. Cut through the fog with this Vector Selection Tool. Simple, clear recommendations for every application.

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