MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018

University of Missouri researchers discover how IFITM proteins block HIV cell-to-cell transmission

Researchers at the University of Missouri have gained an unprecedented level of understanding in how Interferon Induced Transmembranes (IFITM) proteins serve an antiviral function and help inhibit HIV.

The recent findings on IFITM proteins were part of a study headed by University of Missouri Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Associate Professor Shan-Lu Liu who serves as an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center.

"We've known that HIV-1, the most common HIV strain, can be transmitted from cell to cell or through a cell-free transmission in which the virus floats freely,” Liu said. “Our research discovered that IFITM proteins can help inhibit the viral cell-to-cell infection, which is the most efficient way that HIV spreads."

Liu’s study was conducted with the aid of doctoral student Jingyou Yu and graduate student Minghua Li, as well as labs in Canada and New York that verified their research findings.

Yu’s experiments included findings that the IFITM2 and IFITM3 proteins in particular block cell-to-cell transmission of HIV, his work with Li showed that it was the protein’s interaction with the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein that caused this.

"In HIV and AIDS research, scientists are constantly learning more about virus transmission and host response to viral infections,” said Liu. “By understanding and visualizing how some IFITM proteins can inhibit and block transmission, we are getting closer to finding better therapeutic approaches in the fight against HIV."

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University of Missouri - Columbia

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