HIV study identifies key cellular defence mechanism

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists have moved a step closer to understanding how one of our body’s own proteins helps stop the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) in its tracks.

The study, carried out by researchers at The University of Manchester and the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research and published in Nature, provides a blueprint for the design of new drugs to treat infection, say the researchers.

Scientists in the United States and France recently discovered that a protein named SAMHD1 was able to prevent HIV replicating in a group of white blood cells called myeloid cells.

Now, crucially, the teams from Manchester and the MRC have shown how SAMHD1 prevents the virus from replicating itself within these cells, opening up the possibility of creating drugs that imitate this biological process to prevent HIV replicating in the sentinel cells of the immune system.

“HIV is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases on the planet, so understanding its biology is critical to the development of novel antiviral compounds,” said Dr Michelle Webb, who led the study in Manchester’s School of Biomedicine.

“SAMHD1 has been shown to prevent the HIV virus replicating in certain cells but precisely how it does this wasn’t known. Our research has found that SAMHD1 is able to degrade deoxynucleotides, which are the building blocks required for replication of the virus.

“If we can stop the virus from replicating within these cells we can prevent it from spreading to other cells and halt the progress of the infection.”

Co-author Dr Ian Taylor, from the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research, added: “We now wish to define more precisely, at a molecular level, how SAMHD1 functions. This will pave the way for new therapeutic approaches to HIV-1 and even vaccine development.”

More information: ‘HIV-1 restriction factor SAMHD1 is a deoxynucleoside triphosphate triphosphohydrolase,’ published in Nature

Related Stories

Researchers identify HIV-inhibiting mechanism

date Jun 29, 2011

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered a long-sought cellular factor that works to inhibit HIV infection of myeloid cells, a subset of white blood cells that display antigens and ...

Understanding the link between HIV and dementia

date Jun 29, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- HIV can hide out in the brain, protected from the immune system and antiviral drugs, Dr. Lachlan Gray and his colleagues at Monash University and the Burnet Institute have found.

Insight into HIV immunity may lead to vaccine

date May 06, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Latest insights into immunity to HIV could help to develop a vaccine to build antibodies’ defences against the disease, a University of Melbourne study has found.

Scientists find another key to HIV success

date Mar 22, 2006

Weill Cornell Medical College scientists say they've determined a protein produced by HIV infected cells prevents immune B cells from producing antibodies.

Ridding the human body of HIV

date Dec 02, 2010

A new Northwestern Medicine study will undertake a bold new protocol to completely eradicate latent HIV cells that current drugs don't affect. Participants, with diagnosed HIV, in the experimental group will be given an investigational ...

Recommended for you

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date 20 hours ago

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

date Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

Research informs HIV treatment policy for inmates

date Apr 16, 2015

A national, five-year study of care for inmates with HIV brought strangers together, produced policy change in the Delaware Department of Corrections and documented the importance of good communication and ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.