Amino Acid Mutations in Protein Might Make HIV Vulnerable to Immune System Attack, Study Finds
Mutations found in four amino acids in the protein that surrounds HIV might make the virus vulnerable to the immune system, according to a study published in the January issue of PLoS Medicine, ANI/Thailand News reports.
For the study, Julie Overbaugh of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and colleagues analyzed the HIV strain of a woman living in Mombasa, Kenya, whose virus was inactivated by antibodies produced by her body. The study found that the woman's virus contained mutations in four amino acids located in HIV's outer envelope protein. Two of the amino acids when introduced to unrelated HIV strains in a laboratory setting provided sensitivity to inactivation by a number of antibodies produced by HIV-positive people, according to the researchers.
The researchers said that such mutations might cause changes in the overall structure of the envelope protein, which might result in exposure to regions of the immune system that normally are hidden from HIV. According to ANI/Thailand News, further research is needed to confirm the theory that vaccines containing envelope proteins with the mutations might be able to stimulate an antibody response to protect against HIV (ANI/Thailand News, 1/3).
The study is available online.