3D structure of HIV is discovered

January 24, 2006

Scientists say the 3D structure of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, has been determined for the first time.

The variable size and shape of HIV has made it hard to map, so the British-German research team took hundreds of images of virus, which is 60 times smaller than red blood cells, and then used a computer program to combine them.

Oxford University Professor Stephen Fuller told the BBC: "You say can you show me the structure of the HIV virus and the question is which one. HIV is very variable. It varied in diameter by a factor of three."

Despite the variability, the team found some consistent features, including the finding the core of virus spans the width of the viral membrane. But there are spikes on the outside that bind to human immune cells and allow the virus to invade them.

The scientists told the BBC whereas most viruses have internal structures that define their size, in the HIV virus it's the membrane that defines the size. They say that fact might lead to more effective therapeutic approaches.

The study is described in the journal Structure.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Dormant copies of HIV mostly defective, new study shows

Related Stories

Dormant copies of HIV mostly defective, new study shows

August 8, 2016

After fully sequencing the latent HIV "provirus" genomes from 19 people being treated for HIV, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that even in patients who start treatment very early, the only widely available method ...

Countdown to a cure—the effort to finally defeat AIDS

July 28, 2016

The sun, barely penetrating the summer fog, dully illuminated the hallways of San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) on July 1, 1981, as Paul Volberding, MD, started his first day of rounds and met his first patient as a ...

A macaque model of HIV infection

June 2, 2016

Researchers have taken a major step toward developing a better animal model of human AIDS. Such a model could greatly improve researchers' ability to evaluate potential strategies for preventing and treating the disease.

No two kinds of retroviruses look—or act—the same

July 5, 2016

In the most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers in the Institute for Molecular Virology and School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota report that most types of retroviruses have distinct, non-identical virus ...

Recommended for you

Inferring urban travel patterns from cellphone data

August 29, 2016

In making decisions about infrastructure development and resource allocation, city planners rely on models of how people move through their cities, on foot, in cars, and on public transportation. Those models are largely ...

NASA team probes peculiar age-defying star

August 29, 2016

For years, astronomers have puzzled over a massive star lodged deep in the Milky Way that shows conflicting signs of being extremely old and extremely young.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.