Targeting the HIV Virus: Researchers Use Supercomputer to Solve the Structure of the HIV-1 Capsid

The HIV virus is housed inside a protective shell called a capsid. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to creating truly effective therapies to combat the virus is that no one knows the exact structure of the HIV capsid. Until now. Researchers Klaus Schulten and Juan Perilla at the University of Illinois have successfully used the power of one of the fastest supercomputers in the world to create a detailed molecular map of the HIV-1 capsid.

The study offers a first look at the structure of the HIV capsid in 8 Angstrom resolution and offers a basis for research into new pharmacological interventions that could disrupt the capsid function and perhaps derail the virus's ability to infect cells.

The researchers were able to combine experimental results from Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, electron microscopy, and X-ray crystallography and, through molecular dynamics flexible fitting (MDFF) techniques, modeled the capsid using the NSF-funded Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois.

Schulten is Swanlund Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and directs the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group at the Beckman Institute. Perilla's research focus is Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry and he is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the TCB group at Beckman.

To read the press release about this research, please visit:

http://news.illinois.edu/news/13/0529HIVcapsid_KlausSchulten.html

  • Date Added:   05/29/13
  • Author:   BeckmanInstitute
  • Length:   00:07:30
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