London, Feb21 : Researchers at University of Minnesota have made a breakthrough by determining the structure of APOBEC3G - a protein that inhibits the AIDS virus, HIV.
This can be considered as a crucial step in the direction of the combat against AIDS and may pave the way for the treatment of this fatal condition.
This study, by Hiroshi Matsuo, Ph.D., and Reuben Harris, Ph.D., co-investigators of the research and assistant professors in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota, is the first of its kind to explain the atomic structure of the protein.
One can compare proteins with miniature machines, each of which performs a specific function. This APOBEC3G "machine" can modify HIV DNA and renders it un-infectious. However, HIV-1 has developed a way to dodge this important cell-protein, known as Vif, which actually leads to the APOBEC3G destruction.
With this discovery researchers will be able to manipulate APOBEC3G for making it effective in battling HIV. Methods to neutralize Vif can be developed through current studies before it has a chance to destroy the protein.
"This new information is a crucial step toward understanding how APOBEC3G and Vif talk to each other. Furthermore this new information will undoubtedly help researchers identify candidate drugs for future novel HIV-1/AIDS therapies," Nature quoted Harris, as saying.
The research was released online recently on the Nature Web site and it will be featured in an upcoming print publication of the journal.