For more than 30 years, NIGMS has supported the structural characterization of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzymes and viral proteins. This support has been instrumental in the development of crucial drugs for antiretroviral therapy such as protease inhibitors. NIGMS continues to support further characterization of viral proteins as well as cellular and viral complexes. These complexes represent the fundamental interactions between the virus and its host target cell and, as such, represent potential new targets for therapeutic development.
In this second in a series of three video interviews with NIGMS-funded researchers probing the structure of HIV, Wes Sundquist, professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah, discusses his lab’s studies of how HIV uses factors in host cells to replicate itself. In particular, Sundquist focuses on the ESCORT pathway that enables HIV to leave infected cells and spread infection elsewhere.
Sundquist also talks about the University of Utah’s Center for the Structural Biology of Cellular Host Elements in Egress, Trafficking, and Assembly of HIV (CHEETAH). This center uses computational and experimental methods to analyze HIV molecular complexes and determine how they interact with and commandeer cellular machinery to move themselves throughout cells and tissues. By visually reconstructing virus particle assembly and trafficking, CHEETAH aims to develop HIV into a leading model for understanding how human viruses interact with cellular hosts, and to provide a platform for designing new therapeutic strategies.