MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Scientists use human DNA system to battle HIV infections

University of Saskatchewan scientists have discovered an ancient “error correction” system that is located inside the human genome and that may give the body some protection against HIV infections.

The specific system is located within a group of enzymes that are made by actions from seven genes named APOBEC3-A, B, C, D, F, G and H. When HIV infections begin to settle in the body, human cells initially use these enzymes to fight the virus. The enzymes confuse the viral DNA so that it can’t multiply and spread and, in turn, HIV uses chemical weapons to stop the enzymes.

"Through our research, we are gaining a better understanding of this interaction and how we may be able to harness it to help treat HIV in the future," Linda Chelico, a biochemist and virologist at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, said.

Not all of the genes are equal. There are seven different variations within the APOBEC3H gene. Two of these variations, called haplotype II and V, use different methods to interrupt HIV.

"One of the interesting bits is that APOBEC3H is more resistant to viral suppression than other APOBEC3s," Chelico said.

These discoveries could be crucial to developing new prevention and treatments for HIV.

Organizations in this story

University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK S7N

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