The HIV-1 antisense gene ASP: The new kid on the block

Zahra Gholizadeh, Mohd Shameel Iqbal, Rui Li, Fabio Romerio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Viruses have developed incredibly creative ways of making a virtue out of necessity, including taking full advantage of their small genomes. Indeed, viruses often encode multiple proteins within the same genomic region by using two or more reading frames in both orientations through a process called overprinting. Complex retroviruses provide compelling examples of that. The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genome expresses sixteen proteins from nine genes that are encoded in the three positive-sense reading frames. In addition, the genome of some HIV-1 strains contains a tenth gene in one of the negative-sense reading frames. The so-called Antisense Protein (ASP) gene overlaps the HIV-1 Rev Response Element (RRE) and the envelope glycoprotein gene, and encodes a highly hydrophobic protein of ~190 amino acids. Despite being identified over thirty years ago, relatively few studies have investigated the role that ASP may play in the virus lifecycle, and its expression in vivo is still questioned. Here we review the current knowledge about ASP, and we discuss some of the many unanswered questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number513
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Antisense protein (ASP)
  • HIV-1
  • Natural antisense transcription
  • Overprinting
  • Pathogenesis
  • Replication
  • Spread

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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