Heidelberg Virologists Make HIV Luminate

Feb 28, 2005

A working group of virologists headed by Professor Hans-Georg Kräusslich at Heidelberg University Hospitals, jointly with Professor Hanswalter Zentgraf, Division of Applied Tumor Virology of the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ), have been the first to label Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV) for visual investigations without inhibiting the functional characteristics of the virus. The labeling permits scientists to observe the behavior of the virus when it enters a host cell, during replication and when it leaves a cell. This is a major step towards understanding the process of HIV infection.

Modern imaging technologies facilitate real-time observation of virus-cell interactions. Many of these investigation methods require labeling of the object of interest, such as by introducing the genetic code of green fluorescent protein (GFP) into its genetic information. There the marker protein will be produced by the cellular machinery and appended to the desired site.

To observe the interaction of HIV with the host cell, there had also been attempts to label the virus with GFP. However, the genetic modifications impaired the formation of virus particles or their infectiousness, thus limiting the value of results obtained. A team of Heidelberg researchers of the university hospitals’ Virology Section and the DKFZ have now found an area within the structure molecule of the viral capsid that tolerates the substantial extension by GFP. Although the insertion of the GFP molecule enlarges the HIV structure protein by about one half, infectious viruses continue to be generated. Using electron microscopy, Zentgraf’s team was able to show that appearance and shape of the virus particles thus created cannot be distinguished from normal HIV. By simultaneous production of GFP-extended and normal structure protein, PD Dr. Barbara Müller was able to produce, under a fluorescence microscope, clearly visible HIVs with several thousand GFP molecules that were as infectious as HIV without GFP. This is an essential step towards a better understanding of the dynamics of HIV infection.

The task of the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum in Heidelberg (German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ) is to systematically investigate the mechanisms of cancer development and to identify cancer risk factors. The results of this basic research are expected to lead to new approaches in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The Center is financed to 90 percent by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and to 10 percent by the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren e.V., HGF).

Publications:

Barbara Müller, Jessica Daecke, Oliver T. Fackler, Matthias T. Dittmar, Hanswalter Zentgraf, Hans-Georg Kräusslich: Construction and characterization of a fluorescently labeled infectious Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 derivative. Journal of Virology Vol. 78 Nr. 19, Oct. 2004.

Michael Eisenstein: Fluorescent virus lets researchers in on the gag. Nature Methods Vol. 1 Nr. 2, Nov. 2004.

Source: Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum

Explore further: Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Underfire Uber ramps up rider safety

3 hours ago

Uber is ramping up driver background checks and other security measures worldwide after the smartphone-focused car-sharing service was banned in New Delhi following the alleged rape of a passenger.

US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking

3 hours ago

A U.S. official says federal investigators have now connected the Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future.

New York state bans fracking

3 hours ago

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

Sony cancels NKorea parody film release after threats

3 hours ago

Hollywood studio Sony Pictures on Wednesday abruptly canceled the December 25 release date of "The Interview," a parody film which has angered North Korea and triggered chilling threats from hackers.

Recommended for you

Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality

8 hours ago

When designing a new car, manufacturers might try to attract consumers with more horsepower, increased fuel efficiency or a lower price point. But new research from San Francisco State University shows consumers' loyalty ...

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China

10 hours ago

A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China, according to a study published December 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xiao-hong Chen f ...

Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

10 hours ago

The three prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz in one of the most famous and elaborate prison breaks in U.S. history could have survived and made it to land, scientists concluded in a recent study.

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.