Researchers unravel a 3-D map of capsid protein

Researchers unravel a 3-D map of capsid protein

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.

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