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January 4, 2013

Researchers Discover How HIV Binds to Dendritic 'Carrier' Immune Cells

Scientists have identified the precise protein on the surface of dendritic immune cells that HIV binds to in order to gain entry, and the discovery could lead to the development of new antiretroviral agents that, for the first time, would attack HIV outside of its life cycle within CD4 cells, ScienceDaily reports. Responsible for prompting immune response in CD4 cells, dendritic cells are also known as carrier cells. In the case of HIV, the virus invades the cell, which then spreads it to CD4s.

Researchers from the AIDS Research Institute IrsiCaixa published a paper in the open access journal PLOS Biology about their discovery of a protein called Siglec-1 that’s on the surface of dendritic cells. Siglec-1 binds to what are known as gangliosides on HIV’s surface and thus help transmit more of the virus to CD4s.

In a lab setting, the researchers combined HIV with varying quantities of Siglec-1 and discovered that higher levels of the protein improved the dendritic cells’ capacity to capture HIV, which then led to greater transmission of the virus into CD4 cells. The scientists also found that inhibiting Siglec-1 prevented dendritic cells from capturing the virus, indicating that such inhibition may be an effective aim for a future drug therapy.

For the study abstract, click here.

To read the ScienceDaily report, click here.

Search: dendritic cells, Siglec-1, AIDS Research Institute IrsiCaixa, PLOS Biology

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