Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Reverse Transcription in Cells
Name: Ed
Status: Other
Grade:  Other
Location: OH
Country: United States
Date: January 2009

What benefits does the cell obtain by being able to reverse transcribe RNA back into DNA? It seems it confers more weaknesses than benefits especially with regard to hijacking by viruses and easy mutation of RNA.

Only retroviruses naturally contain reverse transcriptase. They need this to be able to incorporate their genetic material into the host's DNA. You can't put RNA into DNA so it needs to be made into DNA first. Scientists can grab reverse transcriptase and use it as a tool in the biotech lab, but only viruses contain it naturally.


Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory