Doctoral School / UAM

New natural mechanisms have been identified that prevent the common marmoset from becoming infected with HIV

Researchers at the Severo Ochoa Centre for Molecular Biology (jointly run by the UAM and CSIC), and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston (USA) have demonstrated the existence of new mechanisms that prevent HIV infection in monkeys in Latin America.

A team with Spanish participants has demonstrated the existence of at least two new factors that block infection by HIV-1 in certain monkeys on the American continent, specifically the common marmoset. The work, published in the journal Scientific Reports, identifies that these blocks act at an early stage of the virus’s replication, soon after its entry into the cell.

“Although we still don’t know the identity of the cellular proteins responsible for these blocks, our study gives some clues as to how and where these factors act,” says Beatriz Pacheco, the CSIC researcher who led the research.

According to this work, the first block, called Lv5, acts at a very early stage of the replication cycle: following the entry of the virus into the cell, there is a process of reverse transcription in which the virus genome is copied from an RNA molecule to DNA, and is subsequently integrated into the cell genome, where it can help to form new viruses. Thus Lv5 intervenes by preventing this reverse transcription process.

The second factor, Lv4, acts by blocking the integration of proviral DNA into the cellular genome. In addition, the researchers observed that the viral capsid plays an important role in this block, and identified some mutants capable of countering the action of Lv4.

“Many of the current antiretroviral drugs act by inhibiting the reverse transcription process, or the integration of the virus into the viral genome. Our results are interesting because they are a natural antiretroviral mechanism that is present in some species,” explains Beatriz Pacheco.

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