Reverse transcription

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Reverse transcription is the process of transcribing mRNA into complementary DNA. The enzyme used is reverse transcriptase. Reverse transcriptase will need a short RNA primer called oligonucleotide to start off the process. The primer will bind to the 3-prime poly A tail then reverse transcriptase will add on the nucleotide which is complementary to the mRNA strand synthesizing cDNA from 5'-3' direction[1].

Reverse transcription is used by retroviruses. Retrovirus is a virus which contains RNA as their genome. Once retrovirus enters to a host cell, such as human cells, the virus will use their own reverse transcriptase to convert their genome into cDNA. The DNA is then taken in and treat as the host cell's genome. The viral DNA will then be transcribed and translated into proteins which is essential for the virus to produce a new copy of virus cells[2].


  1. CliffsNotes. Reverse transcription.nd.Available at:
  2. Verywell Future. How a retrovirus or RNA virus works 2018.[Cited 16/2/2018] Available at:
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