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New Light Shed on HIV Behavior (Image 2)


Models of the CA region of Gag molecule reveal specific sets of atoms involved in bundle formation

Cells infected with HIV-1 produce tiny, spherical "virions" to infect other cells. Large numbers of Gag molecules fan out from the center of a newly released virion, similar to spokes in a bicycle wheel, and the natural association of Gag into bundles of six molecules produces a distinctive pattern on the surface of the new virions. The CA region of the Gag molecule (shown here in yellow) is crucial to the formation of these bundles, and changes to the chemical properties of the CA region can block the overall process of HIV-1 infection.

In this image, more detailed models of the CA region of Gag reveal the specific sets of atoms that are involved in bundle formation. This detailed image of the CA regions of one such Gag bundle highlights the important atoms with red and yellow dots.

With the aid of massively parallel supercomputers, along with new multiscale computational simulation approaches that span time and distance, from the atomic to near macroscopic scales, researchers are hoping to gain new insights into preventing the early stages of HIV-1 infection, thus destroying the virus ability to "hijack" other healthy cells.

To learn more about this research, see the TeraGrid Science Highlights 2010 story, "Supercomputer Sheds Light on HIV's Behavior," on page 26 Here. (Date of Image: June 2010) [See related image Here.]

Credit: Courtesy Gregory A. Voth, University of Chicago

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