3D structure of HIV is discovered

Jan 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: Small business owners not always worried about being treated fairly, researcher finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Video of virus-sized particle trying to enter cell

Feb 25, 2014

Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed ...

SlipChip counts molecules with chemistry and a cell phone

Nov 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —In developing nations, rural areas, and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative ...

Recommended for you

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

4 hours ago

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

Residents of 'boom time' suburbs face unsustainable commutes

6 hours ago

People living in the 'boom time' suburbs of Dublin are more likely to endure unsustainable commutes to work than those living in older accommodation. Research shows that people living in newly constructed housing in the Greater ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...