Identifying New Targets in Host Cells to Attack HIV  

By Jeffrey Laurence, M.D.

Dr. Judd F. Hultquist
Dr. Judd F. Hultquist of Northwestern University

Research question
HIV could not function without hijacking multiple pathways involved in the growth and functioning of the host cell it infects. Yet attempts to identify the specific factors involved in this interaction, using standard genetic and biochemical tests, have yielded very few important targets that affect viral function. Development of new methods to rapidly evaluate such factors would be invaluable.

The authors of this study successfully examined 364 genes that had previously been implicated as important to the lifecycle of HIV. They used protein interaction studies and CRISPR technology to suppress such genes in primary human CD4+ T cells and found that 6% of these normal cellular genes, representing 23 factors, had the capacity to restrict HIV growth in T cells from different blood donors. Other factors played some functional role in HIV growth. Importantly, over half of these factors had never been associated with HIV function.

The authors concluded that their strategy may serve as a roadmap for host factor discovery and potential intervention, not only for HIV but for other emerging or under-studied infections as well.


Dr. Ujjwal Rathore of the University of California, San Francisco

amfAR’s role
amfAR was a funder of this research. Authors of this paper include amfAR grantees Dr. Judd F. Hultquist of Northwestern University and Dr. Ujjwal Rathore of the University of California, San Francisco.

Original article

Dr. Laurence is amfAR’s senior scientific consultant.

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