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Friday, 11 March, 2011

Pushing HIV out the door

How host factors aid in the release of HIV particles

HIV Paper Lamb

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – which causes AIDS – invades human immune cells and causes them to produce new copies of the virus, which can then infect new cells. A research team led by NIM researcher Professor Don C. Lamb (LMU Munich) and Priv.-Doz. Dr. Barbara Müller of Heidelberg University Hospital have now analyzed the involvement of particular components of the infected cell in virion release, and discovered that the enzyme VPS4A plays a more active role in the process than was previously thought. VPS4A was already known to act after virus budding was complete. Using an advanced microscopy technique, the group was able to show that complexes containing about a dozen VPS4A molecules form at points in the membrane at which newly assembled virions later emerge. According to Lamb, “We can now demonstrate in detail, for the first time, how host proteins interact with components of HIV, to enable them to bud from infected cells. Our ultimate goal is to elucidate the entire life cycle of the virus.” “With the methods we have at our disposal, we can also study the effects of drugs on infected cells, which may allow us to improve their efficacy or even lead to the development of new classes of active compounds.” (Nature Cell Biology online, 10 March 2011)

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