Public Release:  HIV isolate from Kenya provides clues for vaccine design

PLOS

Two simple changes in its outer envelope protein could render the AIDS virus vulnerable to attack by the immune system, according to research from Kenya and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published in PLoS Medicine.

The results could provide important clues for designing an effective AIDS vaccine, which is badly needed to decrease the number of new HIV infections, now estimated at about 2.5 million per year worldwide.

Although most people infected with HIV produce antibodies against the virus within several weeks following infection, these antibodies rarely prevent the infection from progressing to symptomatic AIDS.

While studying a group of women at risk of HIV in Mombasa, Julie Overbaugh and colleagues noticed that one woman carried an AIDS virus that was easily inactivated by antibodies. They initially described this case in 2007 in the Journal AIDS.

Analyzing this woman's virus, they found that it contains mutations in four amino acids in the envelope protein, two of which, when introduced into unrelated strains of HIV in the laboratory, conferred sensitivity to inactivation by a number of antibodies produced in people infected with HIV.

The researchers propose that these mutations cause a change in the overall structure of the envelope protein that results in exposure to the immune system of regions that are normally hidden. If further research confirms this idea, vaccines containing envelope proteins that include these mutations might be able to stimulate an antibody response that would protect against infection with HIV.

###

Citation: Blish CA, Nguyen MA, Overbaugh J (2008) Enhancing exposure of HIV-1 neutralization epitopes through mutations in gp41. PLoS Med 5(1): e9

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE

VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050009

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-05-01-overbaugh.pdf

CONTACT:

Julie Overbaugh
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Molecular Medicine / Division of Human Biology
1100 Fairview Avenue North, P.O. Box 19024/C3-168
Seattle, WA 98109
United States of America
+1 206-667-3524
+1 206-667-1535 (fax)
joverbau@fhcrc.org

Everything published by PLoS Medicine is Open Access: freely available for anyone to read, download, redistribute and otherwise use, as long as the authorship is properly attributed.

Please mention PLoS Medicine in your report and use the links below to take your readers straight to the online articles:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.