Process by which retroviruses use a host cell to replicate.
Retroviruses contain viral RNA and several copies of reverse transcriptase (DNA polymerase). After infecting a cell, the reverse transcriptase is used to make the initial copies of viral DNA from viral RNA. Once a DNA strand has been synthesized, a complementary viral DNA strand is made. These double strand copies of viral DNA are inserted into the host-cell chromosome and host-cell RNA polymerase is used to make virus-related RNA. These RNA strands serve as templates for making new copies of the viral chromosomal RNA and serve also as mRNA. mRNA is translated into viral proteins that are used to make the virus envelope. New viral particles are assembled, bud from the plasma membrane, and are released. An example of this process is illustrated in the replication of the retrovirus, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).