Nav: Home

NIH scientists discover that defective HIV DNA can encode HIV-related proteins

July 18, 2016

Investigators from the National Institutes of Health have discovered that cells from HIV-infected people whose virus is suppressed with treatment harbor defective HIV DNA that can nevertheless be transcribed into a template for producing HIV-related proteins. This finding may affect scientists' understanding of the long-term effects of HIV infection and what a cure would require.

When HIV infects a cell, it inserts its genetic instructions into the cell's DNA. Effective treatment with anti-HIV drugs does not eliminate this HIV DNA (called proviral DNA or a provirus), so in theory it could give rise to new viruses during treatment. However, scientists previously have found that 95 percent or more of HIV proviruses are unable to encode intact viruses due to genetic mutations and deletions. As a result, researchers have come to think of these defective HIV proviruses as biological dead-ends.

This thinking may change thanks to the new finding by scientists in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH.

Hiromi Imamichi, Ph.D., and colleagues used a technique for creating multiple copies of nearly full-length proviral DNA and cell-associated HIV RNA. The scientists showed that HIV RNAs complementary to defective proviruses could be found in cells from two of four people in whom treatment had suppressed the virus to undetectable levels for more than 8 years. This was evidence that the defective provirus had been transcribed from DNA into an RNA molecule. The researchers then demonstrated that these RNAs could encode novel HIV-related proteins. Thus, while unable to encode a virus, the defective proviral DNA could encode an intact protein.

This finding could help explain the persistent immune activation observed in people living with HIV who have undetectable levels of virus, say the study authors. The discovery also suggests another potential barrier to an HIV cure. More research is needed, however, to determine the impact of HIV RNA transcripts from defective proviruses, the authors add.
-end-
ARTICLE:

H Imamichi et al. Defective HIV-1 proviruses produce novel protein-coding RNA species in HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1609057113 (2016).

WHO:

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and H. Clifford Lane, M.D., director of the NIAID Division of Clinical Research, are available for interviews. Dr. Fauci is chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, and Dr. Lane is chief of the Clinical and Molecular Retrovirology Section within the laboratory.

CONTACT:

To schedule interviews, please contact Laura S. Leifman, (301) 402-1663, laura.sivitz@nih.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Hiv Articles:

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.
Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.
NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
First ever living donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant
For the first time, a person living with HIV has donated a kidney to a transplant recipient also living with HIV.
More Hiv News and Hiv Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...