Saturday, January 12, 2008
The AIDS virus can only make about 15 proteins on its own. In order to reproduce, it must rely on its ability to force its human host cell to make all of the other proteins it needs. And with the use of a new genetic screen, researchers at Harvard University have identified at least 273 of these human proteins. Knowing precisely which human proteins the virus needs may lead to techniques for growing the virus in the laboratory for research purposes, or ways to block one or more of these key proteins in humans without disrupting the human body very much.
Instructors who are especially interested in how viruses reproduce may wish to read the full research article (Science online January 10; "Identification of Host Proteins Required for HIV Infection Through a Functional Genomic Screen") and comment on its findings in class. The article itself is too difficult for entry-level students.