Massachusetts Medical School identifies new stage of HIV infection
To make this discovery, they created a new technique that allows them to take pictures of infected cells that are still in one piece. These images are available in Cell Reports.
"There are certain characteristics of a virus you can only learn about by keeping it intact and seeing it in action in single cells," Jill Perreira, a co-lead author on the study and research associate at UMMS, said. "Researchers have been studying HIV for 30 years, but we still didn't have a really good way to look inside infected cells. We thought that if we could just see what's going on, then we could get a better idea of what the virus is doing and how to stop it."
This intra-nuclear migration phase uses CPSF6, a human protein, to maneuver the virus into the nucleus of the host cell. Then, it places itself within range of active genes.
"This study reveals an important stage and mechanism in HIV infection that was previously unappreciated," Abraham Brass, assistant professor of microbiology and physiological systems, said. "It's important to know more about these early infection events so we can come up with ways to stop the virus from becoming part of our DNA and infecting us for life."