Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biochemist Searches For Clues To Hiv Binding, Finds Protein Structural Flexibility May Be Key

Date:
January 19, 2001
Source:
University Of Cincinnati
Summary:
The search for an effective way to prevent or treat infections with the AIDS virus has been a frustrating one for many scientists, but the search is now focused down to the molecular level. And a University of Cincinnati biochemist is helping to unlock the secrets of gp-120 -- a key protein in the infection process.

The search for an effective way to prevent or treat infections with the AIDS virus has been a frustrating one for many scientists, but the search is now focused down to the molecular level. And a University of Cincinnati biochemist is helping to unlock the secrets of gp-120 -- a key protein in the infection process.

Related Articles


Pearl Tsang, associate professor of chemistry, and her colleagues focused in one portion of gp-120 which is just 15 amino acids in length along a section known as the "V3 loop."

"That specific region [the V3 loop] is critical to infection, because that's the part of the virus that binds to receptor proteins involved in infection of the host immune cells," said Tsang. "If we can understand how it interacts with the receptor on these immune cells, that would allow drug companies to design drugs to block that interaction."

The basic idea is simple. Prevent the AIDS virus HIV from getting inside the immune cells. Block the virus, and you prevent infection. A simple idea, but it's a very tough task for researchers like Tsang. "It's slow-going," said Tsang. "It's never been easy, because this is a difficult system to study. But it's important in finding out what kinds of therapy might work."

Tsang uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other spectroscopic techniques to study the structure and binding characteristics of the V3 loop peptide. What she and her collaborators discovered was that no particular structure is adopted by this peptide.

"The V3 loop region of this protein appears to be structurally flexible. That's astounded a lot of people," said Tsang. "There's no single predominant structure."

That means that this region of the HIV gp120 protein can change its shape as needed to bind to its target receptor on the host cell. "It appears that it's important that this region be flexible."

In fact, when the researchers tried to lock the protein into a particular structure, that inhibited binding. "It's a surprising result," admitted Tsang. "But other groups using different methods are now beginning to see this as well."

The findings are significant in terms of drug design, because they rule out using the structure of the 15-peptide sequence as a logical target for anti-HIV drugs. "We have to look elsewhere," concluded Tsang. "You can't design something to attack this. Or, you need to look at post-binding stages binding after it (the V3 loop) reaches its final conformation."

Her findings were published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (11/24/00). The co-authors were Gang Wu, a graduate student at UC; Roger MacKenzie at the Institute for Biological Sciences in Ottawa, Canada; and Paul Durda at Massachusetts General Hospital. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Program for Women Undergraduates Helps Research Effort

Tsang received some important help in her research from biochemistry undergraduate Fannie Papatoli last summer.

Papatoli was one of several UC undergraduates chosen for Research Experience for Women Undergraduates program sponsored by UC's Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group. "It's an excellent program," said Tsang. "We get them to think about what they can do with a science degree. Mentoring women in science is an important issue, and I'm glad to take part."

Papatoli's project focused on optimizing the conditions for collecting the specific peptide that Tsang studies. That involves some very specialized procedures for protein synthesis, purification and analysis. "This program gave me the opportunity to see what being a scientist means," said Papatoli. "I had the chance to learn how to use the various equipment in the lab - chromatography and peptide synthesis equipment and get familiar with the lab work and techniques used. I was impressed with the organization of the research program, and I think that its continuation is of utmost importance for the benefit of forthcoming scientists."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Cincinnati. "Biochemist Searches For Clues To Hiv Binding, Finds Protein Structural Flexibility May Be Key." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118065305.htm>.
University Of Cincinnati. (2001, January 19). Biochemist Searches For Clues To Hiv Binding, Finds Protein Structural Flexibility May Be Key. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118065305.htm
University Of Cincinnati. "Biochemist Searches For Clues To Hiv Binding, Finds Protein Structural Flexibility May Be Key." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118065305.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins