The structure of the protein complex responsible for unlocking cells to enable HIV entry is reported online in Nature. The findings provide a greater understanding of how the virus works and will help towards the improved design of vaccines and drug treatments.
Sriram Subramaniam and colleagues used cryo-electron tomography along with powerful new computational tools to look at the structure of Env - the protein complex on the surface of HIV that initiates infection by binding to the CD4 receptor on host cells. The team observed that Env changed its structure slightly to accommodate binding of CD4, turning like a key in a lock and moving the virus in place for infection.
The research offers further insight as to how the virus gets into cells, and could be used to identify regions of Env to target with vaccines and drugs to prevent infection.
Sriram Subramaniam (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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