Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New look at multitalented protein sheds light on mysteries of HIV

15.10.2010
New insights into the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection process, which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), may now be possible through a research method recently developed in part at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where scientists have glimpsed an important protein molecule's behavior with unprecedented clarity.

The HIV protein, known as Gag, plays several critical roles in the assembly of the human immunodeficiency virus in a host cell, but persistent difficulties with imaging Gag in a lab setting have stymied researchers' efforts to study how it functions.

"A better understanding of Gag's behavior might allow researchers to develop antiviral drugs that target the HIV assembly process, which remains unassailed by medical science," says Hirsh Nanda, a postdoctoral researcher at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) and a member of the multi-institutional research team. "Our method might reveal how to inhibit new viruses as they grow."

The Gag molecule is a microscopic gymnast. At different stages during HIV assembly, the protein twists itself into several different shapes inside a host cell. One shape, or conformation, helps it to drag a piece of HIV genetic material toward the cell membrane, where the viral particles grow. Gag's opposite end becomes anchored there, stretching the protein into a rod-like conformation that eventually helps form a barrier surrounding the infectious genes in the finished virus. But while scientists have been aware for years that Gag appears to play several roles in HIV assembly, the specifics have remained mysterious.

... more about:
»HIV »NCNR »NIST »cell membrane »organic molecule

The research team potentially solved this problem by creating an artificial cell membrane where Gag can show off its gymnastic prowess for the neutron probes at the NCNR. The center includes a variety of instruments specifically designed to observe large organic molecules like proteins.

"We were able to mimic the different stages of the virus's development, and look at what Gag's conformation was at these various stages," Nanda says. "We saw conformations that had never been seen before."

Nanda describes the team's first paper* on the subject as an important first step in describing their observational method, which was a joint effort between NIST, the National Cancer Institute and Carnegie-Mellon University. They plan another paper detailing what the method has revealed about HIV.

"Our efforts have not yet shown us how many steps are involved in Gag's work assembling an HIV particle, but at least we can see what it looks like in each major interaction that likely occurs in the cell during assembly," Nanda says. "It may allow us to characterize them for the first time."

Nanda says that their technique will also allow scientists to examine large classes of membrane proteins, which like Gag are notoriously hard to examine.

*H. Nanda, S.A.K. Datta, F. Heinrich, M. Lösche, A. Rein, S. Krueger, J.E. Curtis. Electrostatic interactions and binding orientation of HIV-1 matrix, studied by neutron reflectivity. Biophysical Journal, Vol. 99 (8), Oct. 20, 2010.

Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

Further reports about: HIV NCNR NIST cell membrane organic molecule

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>