Saveez Saffarian, University of Utah
This illustration shows how the AIDS-causing virus normally buds and releases from an infected cell (upper right to middle left) and how a new approach to fighting the virus could render release virus particles noninfectious (upper right, curing back to the left). The blue band in the illustration represents the surface of an infected cell. The process begins at the upper right as a new HIV particle begins to emerge or bud from an infected cell (first two light blue partial spheres), with viral envelope proteins protruding from the emerging virus particle. The budded particle is shown at the center, now with a cutaway view of the inside of the HIV, which includes Gag proteins (yellowish orange) and Pol proteins (blue), which include enzymes needed for the virus to replicate. At this point the virus is still attached to the cell. The last two HIV particles on the left represent the normal budding process, in which the HIV particle or “viron” is released from the cell, with an orange capsid protein inside the virus carrying the enzymes that make it infectious. University of Utah scientists have found that if they can delay the budding process – represented by the three HIV particles extending from the center to the middle right – they can render it noninfectious. In that case, the delay allows the enzymes inside the HIV particle to leak back into the host cell, so that when the virus finally is released, it lacks the enzymes in the capsid protein that makes it infectious.