July 2, 2003
While mice are the laboratory animal of choice for studying many diseases, researchers largely have had to rely on chimpanzees and gibbons for work on HIV/AIDS. Mice susceptible to HIV could speed laboratory research into HIV, as well as the testing of potential vaccines and drugs.
Some mice, genetically modified so their own immune systems have been replaced with human equivalents, can be infected with HIV. However, the virus only replicates in the "human" cells within the mouse. Otherwise in mice, HIV's replication is blocked at several points, stymieing efforts to render the animal susceptible to the virus.
Previous work has overcome the barrier that blocked HIV's entry into mouse cells. The new work showed success in modifying mouse cells in a way that allows HIV-1 to replicate, although not at the same levels seen in humans, coauthor Yong-Hui Zheng said. Additional blocks to replication still exist, he said.
The full study "Human p32 Protein Relieves a Post-Transcriptional Block on HIV Replication in Murine Cells," is published in the July issue of Nature Cell Biology (2003;5:611-618).
06.29.03; Andrew Bridges