Researchers at the University of Missouri have been able to procure detailed images of the capsid protein, which is a key protein in HIV, in its natural state. Stefan Sarafianos – an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and the Chancellor's Chair of Excellence in molecular virology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine – who is heading the team of researchers, explains, “The capsid shell acts as an 'invisibility cloak' that hides the virus' genetic information, the genome, while it is being copied in a hostile environment for the virus.” Using a technique called X-ray crystallography, Sarafianos and his team created the most complete model yet of an HIV capsid protein and developed the protein’s 3-D map. The model revealed that the protein consists of water molecules, which help the capsid shell to be flexible and assume different forms, a critical requirement for the life cycle of the HIV virus. This model of the capsid protein will help in the development of antiviral drugs that combat HIV and AIDS.
Read more in Science Daily.