Frontlines | No Life Raft for HIV

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The way to plot a story, goes the old saw, is to put people on a raft in the water and put a hole in it. A similar situation faced HIV-1 researcher Marilyn Resh, but with a twist: She had to knock off the occupants while preserving the raft. These rafts--so named because they are insoluble in nonionic detergent--are domains within a cell membrane. The HIV glycosaminoglycan (Gag) proteins occupy these rafts. To build a new HIV particle, 1,000 to 1,500 Gag molecules from these rafts assemble into a virus-like particle, which is an essential precursor to viral reproduction.

Rafts are believed to "concentrate proteins in a small region of the membrane and thereby make protein-protein interaction more efficient," says Resh, a cell biology professor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She doesn't destroy the rafts to prevent...

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