Their findings, published in the June issue of Plos Biology, counter the prevailing belief that HIV and other retroviruses can only leave and enter cells by virus-specific mechanisms.
“It appears that cells make HIV and other retroviruses by a naturally occurring export mechanism,” says Stephen Gould, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Chemistry at Johns Hopkins. Cells normally export certain membrane-bound molecules to the outside world by means of small sacs known as exosomes. By studying human T-cells under a microscope, Gould, Yi Fang, Ning Wu, and other members of his team discovered what’s needed to qualify proteins for exosomal travel.
“Surprisingly, all that’s needed for a protein to get out of the cell in exosomes are the ability to clump together and attach to the cell’s membrane,” Gould says.
In one experiment, Gould and his team added chemicals to normal human cells that force nearby proteins together into a clump, and this was enough to get them sent out of the cell in exosomes. If they added a tether to force naturally-clumping proteins inside the cell to the membrane, the proteins met a similar exosomal deportation fate.
The major HIV protein ‘Gag’ has both of these properties that cells sense in selecting exosomal cargoes. When the researchers removed the tethers or clumping signals from Gag it could no longer get out of the cell. However, if they were replaced with synthetic membrane anchors and clumping domains Gag regained its ability to get out of cells in exosomes.
Gould speculates that cells may have initially developed exosomes as a quality control mechanism to get rid of clumped proteins, which are generally broken and useless. However, just as retroviruses exploit other cell processes for their own ends, it now appears they rely on exosomes to get out of infected cells and infect fresh cells. As such, drugs that interfere with exosome formation might be one way to inhibit HIV infections.
“Viruses like HIV use pathways we barely recognize, much less understand,” Gould says. “Our paper highlights the importance of studying their basic biochemistry and cell biology, which can yield a better understanding of normal human biology as well as identify new avenues in the fight against human disease.”
Nick Zagorski | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy