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Scientists unveil piece of HIV protein that may be key to AIDS vaccine development

tein stiff enough to capture a picture of it in complex with b12. They saw that b12 binds gp120 at the same point where gp120 initially attaches to CD4. Unlike the gp120-CD4 interactions, however, b12 can latch onto the site of CD4's first contact without requiring a shape change in gp120 to create a stable bond between the two molecules. Essentially, the scientists found that the initial point of CD4 contact is a site of gp120 weakness because it is the site of recognition—called an epitope—for b12.

"One of our primary goals is to develop HIV vaccines that can stimulate broadly neutralizing antibodies," says Dr. Nabel. "The structure of this gp120 epitope, and its susceptibility to attack by a broadly neutralizing antibody, shows us a critical area of vulnerability on the virus that we may be able to target with vaccines. This is certainly one of the best leads to come along in recent years."
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Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


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