Protein clues to better HIV-1 treatment
doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.270 Published online 28 August 2008
A tri-nation team of scientists has for the first time made an in-depth analysis of the genetic variation in one of the auxillary proteins called Vpr present in the killer virus HIV-11. The study will help overcome the problems posed by the huge genetic variability in the treatment of HIV-1 infected individuals.
HIV-1 is resistant to antiviral agents, neutralizing antibodies and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) involving several viral gene products. Vpr is a multifunctional protein and is involved in the induction of apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and transcriptional activation.
The team involved a total of 976 Vpr sequences from global HIV-1 isolates. They suggest that a comprehensive analysis of the polymorphisms in HIV proteins will help understand virus transmission and pathogenesis as well as in the efforts towards developing anti-viral therapeutics and vaccines.
The researchers analysed polymorphisms at the individual amino acid level. The results suggest that amino acid polymorphisms may contribute to the immune escape of the virus. The available data on naturally occurring polymorphisms will be useful to assess their potential effect on the structural and functional constraints of Vpr and also on the fitness of HIV-1 for replication, they say.