Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Structure Of An Entire HIV Genome Decoded

Date:
August 6, 2009
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
The structure of an entire HIV genome has been decoded for the first time. The results have widespread implications for understanding the strategies that viruses, like the one that causes AIDS, use to infect humans. The study also opens the door for further research which could accelerate the development of antiviral drugs.

The structure of an entire HIV genome has been decoded for the first time by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The results have widespread implications for understanding the strategies that viruses, like the one that causes AIDS, use to infect humans.

The study, the cover story in the Aug. 6, 2009, issue of the journal Nature, also opens the door for further research which could accelerate the development of antiviral drugs.

HIV, like the viruses that cause influenza, hepatitis C and polio, carries its genetic information as single-stranded RNA rather than double-stranded DNA. The information encoded in DNA is almost entirely in the sequence of its building blocks, which are called nucleotides. But the information encoded in RNA is more complex; RNA is able to fold into intricate patterns and structures. These structures are created when the ribbon-like RNA genome folds back on itself to make three-dimensional objects.

Kevin Weeks, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences who led the study, said prior to this new work researchers had modeled only small regions of the HIV RNA genome. The HIV RNA genome is very large, composed of two strands of nearly 10,000 nucleotides each.

Weeks, who is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Joseph M. Watts, a chemistry postdoctoral fellow supported by the Lineberger Center, used technology developed by Weeks' lab to analyze the architecture of HIV genomes isolated from infectious cultures containing trillions of viral particles that were grown by Robert Gorelick, Ph.D., and Julian Bess of the National Cancer Institute.

They then teamed up with UNC researchers in the College and the School of Medicine for further analysis: Christopher Leonard in the department of chemistry; Kristen Dang, Ph.D., from biomedical engineering; Ron Swanstrom, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC Lineberger; and Christina Burch, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology. They found that the RNA structures influence multiple steps in the HIV infectivity cycle.

"There is so much structure in the HIV RNA genome that it almost certainly plays a previously unappreciated role in the expression of the genetic code," Weeks said.

Swanstrom and Weeks note that the study is the key to unlocking additional roles of RNA genomes that are important to the lifecycle of these viruses in future investigations.

"One approach is to change the RNA sequence and see if the virus notices," Swanstrom said. "If it doesn't grow as well when you disrupt the virus with mutations, then you know you've mutated or affected something that was important to the virus."

Weeks added: "We are also beginning to understand tricks the genome uses to help the virus escape detection by the human host."

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Structure Of An Entire HIV Genome Decoded." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805133015.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2009, August 6). Structure Of An Entire HIV Genome Decoded. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805133015.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Structure Of An Entire HIV Genome Decoded." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090805133015.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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