Scientists have discovered that a cellular enzyme helps ferry HIV genetic instructions out of the cell nucleus where they can then be translated into proteins to begin their most destructive work. The cellular enzyme represents a potential new target for developing improved HIV drugs, say the researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the McGill University AIDS Center.
Kuan-Teh Jeang, M.D., Ph.D., of NIAID led the research team reporting their discovery in the Oct. 29 issue of Cell. "This finding provides new insights into a crucial step in HIV replication," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "The discovery also provides an attractive target for drug development which, if successful, might in time give us a completely new type of HIV drug that circumvents the problem of drug resistance."
Dr. Jeangs team found evidence that the virus co-opts an enzyme produced by human cells to transport HIVs genetic material out of the cell nucleus. Once out of the nucleus, these messenger RNAs begin directing the cell to create and assemble new virus particles.
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