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How HIV cripples immune cells
Date:9/16/2009

ly on their mobility.

Short-circuiting of two different signal paths in the cell by Nef

The researchers examined the movement of cells in living zebra fish embryos and were able to show that cell mobility is inhibited by the HIV Nef protein. As they continued their experiments on cell cultures, they were able to explain the underlying mechanism: Nef causes an enzyme that normally has nothing to do with cell mobility to deactivate a regulator for actin regeneration. Nef therefore causes a short-circuit of two cellular mechanisms, thus inhibiting the reorganization of the cell structure element actin and the cell's ability to move. Thus, the affected immune cells can no longer fulfill their function.

"We speculate that the negative effect of Nef on the mobility of T-helper cells has far reaching consequences for the efficient formation of antibodies by B-lymphocytes in the patient. The mechanism we have described could be involved in the increasingly observed malfunction of B-lymphocytes in AIDS patients", explains Professor Fackler. Up to now, Nef has not been a target of antiviral therapy. Since one of the first molecular mechanisms has now been decoded, however, and the importance of Nef for the disease has become clearer, this could change in the future.


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Contact: Prof. Dr. Oliver T. Fackler
Oliver_Fackler@med.uni-heidelberg.de
062-215-61322
University Hospital Heidelberg
Source:Eurekalert  

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