Nav: Home

Scientists pinpoint new mechanism that impacts HIV infection

July 24, 2019

San Antonio, Texas (July 24, 2019) - A team of scientists led by Texas Biomed's Assistant Professor Smita Kulkarni, Ph.D. and Mary Carrington, Ph.D., at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, published results of a study that pinpointed a long noncoding RNA molecule which influences a key receptor involved in HIV infection and progression of the disease. This newly-identified mechanism could open up a new avenue for control of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The article was published in a recent edition of the journal Nature Immunology.

Most of the genome is made up of noncoding RNAs which do not directly translate into proteins. In fact, 97% of the human genome is non-protein coding. Dr. Kulkarni says that until the last decade or so, scientists thought many of these particular RNAs were "junk." Now, new research shows they play many roles. Recent developments in technology and genomics have made advances in knowledge in this area possible.

Dr. Kulkarni and her colleagues showed that a specific long noncoding RNA impacts the gene encoding the HIV co-receptor CCR5. Since CCR5 is critical for the HIV virus to enter the cell, a polymorphism associated with variation in expression of this long noncoding RNA impact the infection's outcome. Genomic DNA from various groups including Hispanics, African Americans and Japanese showed that this association is present across many ethnicities. This consistency of this association across populations speak to a single functional mechanism explaining this association.

Nature Immunology also featured a commentary about the study called "A SNP of lncRNA gives HIV-1 a boost" to further underscore the importance of this study to the field. In the article, Sanath Kumar Janaka and David T. Evans write "this study provides new insight into how polymorphisms in regulatory elements may explain genetic variation in pathogenesis." They go on to call Dr. Kulkarni's discovery a "fascinating and intricate mechanism."

"Their comments are encouraging and impel us to explore further," Dr. Kulkarni said."

HIV is still a major public health burden. More than a million people are living with HIV in the U.S. alone. More than 50,000 new cases are reported each year.

"Finding functional mechanisms of the disease-associated gene regions will increase our understanding about how they regulate disease-associated genes and pathways," Dr. Kulkarni explained. "We may be able to find selective targets for therapy."

Dr. Kulkarni said the discoveries outlined in this journal article may have implications for the progression of other infectious diseases. "There are many ways we can use the techniques we have learned through this study - what we have established in our lab," she added. "We can apply it to many other pathogens currently being studied by scientists at Texas Biomed and at many other institutions."
-end-
The project was supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- NIAID (grant nos. A1120900 and A1140956 (to Dr. Kulkarni), HU-CFAR (to Dr. Kulkarni), Cowles fellowship (Dr. Sukhvinder Singh), institutional funds from Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. This project has been funded with federal funds from the Frederick National Laboratory (contract no. HHSN261200800001E). This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, and Center for Cancer Research. Dr. Kulkani's work is supported by the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.

Texas Biomed is one of the world's leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. The Institute is home to the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) and provides broad services in primate research. SNPRC contributes to a national network of National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) with specialized technologies, capabilities and primate resources, many of which are unique to the SNPRC. The Center also serves investigators around the globe with research and technical procedures for collaborative projects. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to http://www.TxBiomed.org or for more information on SNPRC, visit http://www.SNPRC.org.

Texas Biomedical Research Institute

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.
The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.
Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.
HIV RNA expression inhibitors may restore immune function in HIV-infected individuals
Immune activation and inflammation persist in the majority of treated HIV-infected individuals and is associated with excess risk of mortality and morbidity.
HIV vaccine elicits antibodies in animals that neutralize dozens of HIV strains
An experimental vaccine regimen based on the structure of a vulnerable site on HIV elicited antibodies in mice, guinea pigs and monkeys that neutralize dozens of HIV strains from around the world.
State-of-the-art HIV drug could curb HIV transmission, improve survival in India
An HIV treatment regimen already widely used in North America and Europe would likely increase the life expectancy of people living with HIV in India by nearly three years and reduce the number of new HIV infections by 23 percent with minimal impact on the country's HIV/AIDS budget.
More Hiv News and Hiv Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab