CRG and CEXS-UPF: A new tool to find latent HIV will advance the current treatment strategies

CRG and CEXS-UPF: A new tool to find latent HIV will advance the current treatment strategies

News from CRG and CEXS-UPF

A group of researchers at the CRG and the UPF have developed a new technology that sheds light on the HIV infection and offers a first glance at the expression landscape of the HIV in the human genome.

After entering the genome of an infected cell, a fraction of the viruses becomes dormant and hence escapes detection by our immune system. Foreign viral DNA is silenced in the human genome by the host chromatin, which is a complex of DNA and proteins wrapping and condensing the DNA to form chromosomes. Chromatin silencing is mediated by several mechanisms and now a team of researchers led by Guillaume Filion have developed a technology aimed at discovering the role of the chromatin silencing in the response of latent HIV to the currently available drugs.

As reported in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, they developed a technology called B-HIVE, which allowed them to map the HIV inserts within the human genome as well as to measure their expression levels. “We barcoded a population of viruses with a genetic identifier. With the barcodes, we were able to link an individual virus to its chromosomal location” explains Filion. “Also, we were able to measure their expression levels and showed that the response of HIV to reactivation therapies partly depends on the integration site in the human genome. For the first time, it shows the practical relevance of the chromatin context in the fight against HIV”, states the researcher. With the use of this new technology, the researchers wew able to show that different HIV reactivation drugs reactivate HIV from different locations within the chromosome. 

More information:
CRG website and CEXS-UPF website

Reference article:
Chen HC et al. “Position effects influence HIV latency reversal”, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, November 21 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3328