When a normal virus such as the common cold infects people we develop an immune response and produce defence cells which can quickly get rid of the virus. But when HIV infects us it can last for our whole life. HIV does this by successfully hiding from our immune cells, which are seeking to identify and destroy the virus, fooling them into thinking that it is part of the normal trash in a cell rather than being clearly visible on the cell surface.
“HIV can make a protein called Nef, which helps the virus hide. Nef interferes with one important part of our defences which helps our immune system recognise infected cells by displaying pieces of the infecting virus or bacteria on the cell surface, forming a target for our bodies’ killer cells. When HIV infects one of our cells, the protein Nef binds to this helper system and alters it in such a way that the cell believes it belongs in the cellular trash bin rather than on the surface where our main defences can see it,” says Associate Professor Dr Kathleen Collins of the University of Michigan, USA.
The Nef protein made by HIV recruits other proteins which we naturally make within our cells to aid this subversion. The US scientists have identified these natural proteins and developed inhibitors which can block their actions, reversing the activity of Nef and potentially allowing our immune system to function properly and clear the virus from our system.
“We are currently screening a whole range of substances looking for small molecule inhibitors which could be developed into drugs to provide better therapies for people with HIV and AIDS,” says Kathleen Collins. “We have discovered that Nef takes on notably different shapes and structural forms in different contexts, which allows it to reveal or obscure different traffic signals within the infected cell as needed. Once we have a better understanding of the surfaces and shapes involved in these interactions we will be in a better position to develop medicines which may someday help to combat AIDS.”
Lucy Goodchild | alfa
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine