Researchers Find How HIV Enters Cell Nucleus

Study sheds light on HIV development.

The long sought after question of how HIV is able to get through a cell’s nuclear envelope was answered in a recent study.

Part of the mystery around this process is because the HIV core is 50% larger than the pores in the nuclear envelope, which typically allows cellular proteins to come and go between the nucleus and the rest of the cell.

However, in a study published in PLOS Pathogens, researchers discovered that the motor protein KIF5B interacts with both the HIV-1 core and the nuclear pore in such a way that allows HIV into the cell’s nucleus.

Normally, KIF5B’s role is to transport different material within the cell and away from the nucleus. But, HIV is able to hijack KIF5B to instead tear off pieces of the nuclear envelop called Nup358, and carry them away from the nucleus.

This makes the pore wide enough for HIV to pass through. These findings serve as a potential new strategy in the fight against HIV by developing a drug that prevents KIF5B from getting hijacked and damaging the nuclear pores.

This approach would give the immune system enough time to signal an attack to destroy the virus.

“It’s like making a bank vault harder to break into,” said corresponding study author Edward M. Campbell, PhD. “In addition to making the money more secure, it would increase the chance of sounding the alarm and catching the burglars.”