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Protein May Help People Resist HIV

It works by mutating the virus that causes AIDS

THURSDAY, June 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Scientists say they've spotted a cellular protein that might help the body ward off HIV and AIDS.

The protein, called APOBEC3F, "may be a factor in HIV resistance. We need to discover whether these proteins are essential for keeping HIV at bay in an infected individual," lead researcher Reuben Harris, of the University of Minnesota, said in a prepared statement.

APOBEC3F joins another previously identified protein, APOBEC3G, in a class of cellular defense agents called retroviral restrictors. They're able to mutate HIV and may help explain why a minority of individuals remain resistant to the virus.

According to the Minnesota team, HIV mounts its own defense against proteins in the APOBEC family. But APOBEC3F seems especially adept at getting around this defense.

"APOBECs are a 'search and destroy' defense," Harris explained. "It's different from the defense found in some HIV-resistant people, in which the outer surfaces of their cells no longer offer footholds for the virus to attach and begin the process of infection."

The study is published June 24 in the journal Current Biology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about HIV/AIDS.

SOURCE: University of Minnesota, news release, June 24, 2004
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