Deciphered the structure of a key fragment of HIV which could be the basis for a vaccine

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has a very complex structure and very high variability and the ability to mutate. This applies to protein, which plays a major role in implantation of the virus into the cell, and starts a destructive cycle. This structure recently has finally been fully explored.

Responsible for the opening of the American scientists from Harvard medical school and Boston children’s hospital. In the course of studying the structure of the protein shell of the HIV-1 (one of the most common forms of the virus), was discovered a structure that directly attaches the virus to the cell and initiates its penetration inside. As stated by scientists, this is the last missing piece, which can play a key role in creating the HIV vaccine. According to one of the researchers Bin Chen,

“Once the virus fuses with the cell, a process starts which does not stop. HIV enters the T-cell immunity and makes it create its copies that are going out to infect new cells. The structural complexity of the protein remained the main mystery of the virus, but we have taken a significant step to close this gap.”

So what new we can learn? In addition to full data on the structure, has been studied membrane protein and a transmembrane segment. Itself protein shell has the shape of a mushroom. The most interesting part of this “mushroom” — his hat, bearing the name ectodomain. It is responsible for entry into cells, and can be reconfigured and rebuild its structure, making it difficult to develop a universal vaccine. However, fully knowing the “composition” of ectodomain, you can try to make a drug that destroyed or deactivated it, which would make the virus “harmless”. Experts now expect to start vaccine development in this direction.

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