What HIV needs: Identification of human factors may yield novel therapeutic targets for HIV

Oct 02, 2008
The human immunodeficiency virus only brings along a minimalist's survival gear -- just nine genes, coding for 15 proteins -- and relies on its host cell to provide what's missing. Image: Dr. John Young, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Burnham Institute for Medical Research today announced 295 host cell factors that are involved in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The study, published in the Oct. 3 issue of Cell, could lead to the development of a new class of HIV therapeutics aimed at disrupting the human-HIV interactions that lead to viral infection.

The research, a collaborative effort between the laboratories of Sumit K. Chanda, Ph.D, previously at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) and now at Burnham and John Young, Ph.D. at Salk, combined several layers of genome-wide analysis to identify cellular proteins that aid the virus in establishing an infection.

"HIV has just nine genes, coding for 15 proteins, compared to bacteria, which harbor several thousand genes, or humans, with over 20,000 genes," said Chanda, associate professor in the Infectious & Inflammatory Disease Center at Burnham and an adjunct faculty member at Salk. "We have known for a long time that HIV hijacks our cellular proteins to complete its life cycle. This study now lays out its flight plan."

Young, professor in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at Salk added, "Due to viral resistance, there is an urgent need for new classes of therapies aimed at preventing the virus from infecting new cells as opposed to merely keeping viral replication in check. To develop more effective therapies for HIV infection and AIDS we must identify and characterize the cellular factors that participate in early steps of HIV-1 replication and prevent the virus from becoming established."

Although more than two dozen drugs are available for the treatment of HIV infection, there is a growing need for new antiviral therapies. Recent studies indicate that HIV remains "hidden" in a latent form, even after long-term suppression with highly active antiretroviral therapy.

In the study, the team of researchers used short-interfering RNA (siRNA) which, when introduced into a cell, silences cellular gene expression, one gene at a time. Using high throughput transfection technology available at GNF and at Burnham, more than 144,000 siRNAs (6 siRNAs for each gene in the human genome) were screened for their effects on HIV-1 infection. Data from the siRNA genomic screen was combined with information from large-scale, protein-protein interaction databases to identify key protein complexes that affect discrete steps in the early stages of HIV infection.

"The integration of these systems-based analyses allowed us to build, for the first time, a functionally validated map of host-pathogen interactions that are required for viral infection," said Renate K├Ânig, Ph.D., of Burnham, the first-author on the study.

Source: Salk Institute

Explore further: New study reveals why some people may be immune to HIV-1

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A kingdom of cave beetles found in Southern China

57 minutes ago

A team of scientists specializing in cave biodiversity from the South China Agricultural University (Guangzhou) unearthed a treasure trove of rare blind cave beetles. The description of seven new species ...

Keystone pipeline passes one US legislative hurdle

1 hour ago

The US House of Representatives on Friday approved construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada, but the measure could still find itself blocked in the Senate.

Recommended for you

New study reveals why some people may be immune to HIV-1

7 hours ago

Doctors have long been mystified as to why HIV-1 rapidly sickens some individuals, while in others the virus has difficulties gaining a foothold. Now, a study of genetic variation in HIV-1 and in the cells ...

Virus discovery could impact HIV drug research

14 hours ago

A research team led by Portland State University (PSU) biology professor Ken Stedman has unlocked the structure of an unusual virus that lives in volcanic hot springs. The discovery could pave the way for better drugs to ...

UN warns over threat of AIDS rebound

Nov 19, 2014

South African actress Charlize Theron threw her weight Tuesday behind an urgent new UN campaign to end AIDS as a global health threat by 2030.

User comments : 0

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.