HIV selectively inserts itself into active areas of a host cells genome, Salk Institute researchers have found for the first time. The fact that the virus hooks itself up to areas of the cells genome that are busy expressing themselves may help explain why HIV can replicate, or reproduce itself, so rapidly. The findings are being published as the cover article in the Friday, August 23, issue of the journal Cell.
"HIV seems to be targeting not just genes, but active genes," said Salk researcher Frederic Bushman, a specialist in infectious diseases who headed the research team. "That makes a lot of biological sense if the targeting has evolved to promote efficient expression of the viral genome once it integrates into the cell."
The findings may have implications for developing more effective gene therapies, said Bushman, Associate Professor in the Infectious Disease Laboratory. Gene therapy involves treating genetic disorders by using a mutated retrovirus to insert a new gene into a defective genome. Gene therapy could be made safer and more effective by knowing more about and taking advantage of a retroviruss targeting specificity, he said.
Kristin Bertell | EurekAlert!
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