Molecular Medicine Israel

HIV’s Stealth Revealed

HIV-1 evades the immune system with a protein shield, which can be lifted

HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, is renowned for its ability to escape the immune system. A new study shows that its sneaky talents depend on the capsid protein that makes up the virus’s outer coat.

Xavier Lahaye and Takeshi Satoh from the Institut Curie in Paris showed that HIV-1 uses its capsid to cloak its DNA from dendritic cells—sentries that detect incoming threats and mobilize the immune system. The researchers also managed to lift this immunity cloak by mutating the capsid.

“By playing with the capsid, we made an HIV-1 that does not replicate but can stimulate an immune response,” said Nicolas Manel, who led the study. “We could imagine modifying the virus and using it as a vaccine.” The results are published in Immunity

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