Protein Pursues HIV Particles


The understanding of the HIV virus functions might have just received a impetus to boost research according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium have developed a promising method to study protein interactions within the virion. The method utilizes the virion as a nano test tube to observe protein interactions.

HIV targets T immune cell

HIV targets T immune cell

The HIV virus begins by attacking immune cells in the body with the intent of hijacking the cell. Once this is accomplished, the virus produces its own genomic material and uses the cell as a factory to create more HIV virions. The protein that is crucial to this step for the HIV virus is the Integrase protein, which directs the DNA of the virus into the DNA of the host immune cell. This study aimed to examine the actions of the protein throughout the course of infection in a single HIV cell.

Currently there are multiple drugs that target the virus; however, the nature of a virus is subject to mutations that could render the treatments obsolete. This heightens the need for a quick and efficient way to test specific aspects of the virus. The study achieved this by using single-molecule fluorescence imaging to locate the tagged Integrase protein both in vitro and in vivo within a human cell. This allowed the monitoring of the virion during treatment by HIV drugs to determine whether the pathway the drugs used involved the Integrase protein.

The potential for this contemporary method has many applications within any protein and virus, and the novelty of this approach being that the protein can be examined on a single cell level. Past studies have been able to study protein-virus interactions, but never on this nano specific level. Hopefully this method will hasten the next possible HIV treatment, which could be more effective than the current drugs.

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