A protein found in rhesus monkeys is known to confer resistance to HIV infection, but the exact mechanism was unclear. Researchers have now shed light on how the TRIM5Î± protein targets the HIV-1 retrovirus and triggers its degradation and activates the innate immune system pathways.
The researchers, who report in Heliyon (online, 14 January 2016)
, worked with human cells expressing the TRIM5Î± protein and found that it contains a motif that allows it to bind a family of proteins known as SUMO. When this binding motif was mutated, TRIM5Î± lost its ability to degrade HIV and stimulate the innate immunity pathway.
The team say the findings could have applications in gene therapy, for which the TRIM5Î± gene is a candidate.