- A retrovirus is a virus that uses RNA as its genetic material. When a retrovirus infects a cell, it makes a DNA copy of its genome that is inserted into the DNA of the host cell. There are a variety of different retroviruses that cause human diseases, including the common cold, some forms of cancer, and AIDS.
Definition from: Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms from the National Human Genome Research Institute
- A type of virus that has RNA instead of DNA as its genetic material. It uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to become part of the host cells' DNA. This allows many copies of the virus to be made in the host cells. The virus that causes AIDS, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a type of retrovirus.
National Cancer Institute
Related discussion in the Handbook
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.