How HIV keeps hiding

Researchers have found a way to explain how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be kept dormant and hidden in immune cells.


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How HIV keeps hiding

The EMBO Journal advance online publication, 1 December 2005; DOI:

Researchers have found a way to explain how the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) can be kept dormant and hidden in immune cells. Their findings,
published online by The EMBO Journal suggest new potential therapeutic
approaches for viral eradication from infected patients.

Current combined antiviral therapies that target essential components of
replicating HIV fail to achieve complete eradication of the virus from
infected patients. This is due in part to the presence of rare cells
harboring silent copies of the HIV virus - a dangerous reservoir of
literally "invisible" virus that might potentially reactivate and seed a new

Warner C. Greene and colleagues report on a significant progress towards the
understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for maintenance of HIV
latency. Specifically, the team demonstrate that viral gene expression is
actively repressed by the inhibitory NF-kappaB p50 protein. This inhibition
is mediated by an enzyme called HDAC1, which is capable of shutting down
gene expression in its vicinity. Interestingly, counteracting the inhibitory
effect of HDAC1 by pharmacological agents is not sufficient to reactivate
dormant HIV. To reach full viral gene expression, additional help by the
viral protein Tat is required.

These findings suggest that combination of HDAC inhibitors and Tat might be
a potential strategy to awaken dormant HIV and eliminate the latent
reservoir of "invisible" virus.

Author contact:
Warner C Greene (University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 415 734 4805; Email: [email protected]

Editorial contact:
Thomas Lemberger (The EMBO Journal, Heidelberg, Germany)
Tel: + 49 6 221 8891 0, E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 04 Dec 2005

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