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Virologists Make Breakthrough In Understanding HIV


Virologists' Breakthrough Heightens Understanding Of HI-Virus

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media, Auckland.

Scoop Report: For the first time scientists of the university hospital in Heidelberg Germany, have managed to mark the HI-Virus for visual examinations, without repressing the functional characteristics of the agent. It's a breakthrough that offers a better understanding of the dynamics of an HIV-infection.

By means of fluorescent proteins the researchers were able to watch the virus closely, reports the German Cancer Research Centre http://www.dkfz.de.

The breakthrough permits scientists to observe the virus’ behaviour when stepping into the host cell, during virus reproduction, and when the virus withdraws from the cell. The discovery gives scientists a better understanding of the course of the HIV-infection.

Modern techniques allow a real-time observation of virus-cell-interactions. Many of these methods require marking subject matter, for example with the green-fluorescent-protein (GFP). The genetic code of the GFP is transfected to the genetic information. During this procedure a marking protein is produced by the cell’s machinery and is added to a designated position.

Up to now scientists have tried to mark the interaction between HIV and the host cell with GFP. But they did not succeed because genetic modifications changed the virus particles and constrained the expressiveness of the results. The researchers from Heidelberg have now discovered an area within the structure molecule of the virus capsule that tolerates the serious extension with the GFP.

The integration of the GFP molecule enlarges the HIV structure protein by half. Nevertheless infectious viruses are generated. Appearance and conformation of the artificially created virus particles cannot be differentiated from normal HIV. The GFP-molecules were as infectious as HIV without GFP. That’s an essential step towards a better understanding of the dynamics of an HIV-infection.

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