Bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV) was first isolated in 1969 from a cow, R-29, with a wasting syndrome. The virus isolated induced the formation of syncytia in cell cultures and was structurally similar to maedi-visna virus. Twenty years later, it was demonstrated that the bovine R-29 isolate was indeed a lentivirus with striking similarity to the human immunodeficiency virus. Like other lentiviruses, BIV has a complex genomic structure characterized by the presence of several regulatory/accessory genes that encode proteins, some of which are involved in the regulation of virus gene expression. This manuscript aims to review biological and, more particularly, molecular aspects of BIV, with emphasis on regulatory/accessory viral genes/proteins, in comparison with those of other lentiviruses.
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