A structurally-distinct immune protein prevents the release of HIV and other viruses from infected cells by literally tying them to the cell membrane, according to a study published online today (October 29) in Cell. This antiviral leash -- known as tetherin -- could be co-opted as a new type of antiviral therapy, the authors say.
Scanning EM image of HIV particles
(yellow) trapped on the surface of a
cell (green) by tetherin

Image: Devon Gregory and Marc Johnson
"It's a key step forward," said molecular virologist linkurl:John Guatelli;http://molpath.ucsd.edu/faculty/Guatelli.shtml of the University of California, San Diego, who did not participate in the research. "There's a potential window of opportunity there to make [this natural antiviral system] work better or to block the viral proteins that counteract it" to help control viral spread. Tetherin is a membrane protein produced by the immune system that blocks the release of HIV and other...

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