Discovering HIV-1's Infection Pathway

HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, invades non-dividing immune cells. The virus persists inside those cells, frustrating efforts to eradicate infections. Until now, HIV’1’s mechanism for infecting non-dividing cells has been a mystery. In a new study published online on July 11 in the  Journal of Virology, Felipe Diaz-Griffero, Ph.D., and colleagues showed that HIV-1 exploits a chain of two repeating amino acids on the surface of white cells to gain entry into the cells. The researchers pinpointed the region on the virus’s outer shell that interacts with the chain. They also identified two HIV-1 inhibitors that prevent the virus from using this entry pathway, which could serve as targets for new drugs to slow infection—especially for patients already resistant to current anti-retroviral treatments. Dr. Diaz-Griffero is professor of microbiology & immunology and the Elsie Wachtel Faculty Scholar at Einstein.