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Protein Has The Ability To Inhibit HIV Release

Update Date: Aug 26, 2014 10:18 AM EDT

A family of proteins that promotes virus entry into cells, also has the ability to block the release of HIV and other viruses, according to a new research. 

"This is a surprising finding that provides new insights into our understanding of not only HIV infection, but also that of Ebola and other viruses," said Shan-Lu Liu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the MU School of Medicine's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, in the press release.

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million Americans currently are living with AIDS. 

When HIV-1 or any virus infects a cell, it replicates and spreads to other cells as well. Previously researches have shown that a type of cellular protein- T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain, or TIM-1 - has the ability to promote entry of some highly pathogenic viruses into host cells. 

In the present study researchers found that the same protein possesses a unique ability to block the release of HIV-1 and Ebola virus. 

 "This study shows that TIM proteins keep viral particles from being released by the infected cell and instead keep them tethered to the cell surface," said Gordon Freeman, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine with Harvard Medical School's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was not affiliated with the study. "This is true for several important enveloped viruses including HIV and Ebola. We may be able to use this insight to slow the production of these viruses."

In the next phase of study, researchers will focus on studying the biological significance of TIM-family proteins in animals and patients and to determine the fate of the infected cell once it accumulates a buildup of viral particles, the press release added. 

"We are not at the point to draw a conclusion as to whether this is a positive or a negative factor," Liu said. "However, this discovery furthers our ultimate goal of understanding the biology of TIM-family proteins and potentially developing applications for future antivirus therapies."

The study was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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