Scientists screen siRNAs to build a chart of host-pathogen interactions that sustain viral infections, says Cell study.

Researchers have distinguished 295 cellular proteins that aid the HIV virus in establishing an infection. The findings may help develop a new class of therapies aimed at preventing the virus from infecting new cells rather than merely keeping viral replication in check—a step that would keep patients ahead of viral resistance.

The team used high-throughput transfection technology to screen more than 144,000 short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) for their effects on HIV-1 infection.

Data from the siRNA genomic screen was integrated with information from large-scale, protein-protein interaction databases to isolate key protein complexes that affect discrete steps in the early stages of HIV infection. “We have known for a long time that HIV hijacks our cellular proteins to complete its life cycle. This study now lays out its flight plan,” says Sumit K. Chanda, Ph.D., associate professor in the Infectious & Inflammatory Disease Center at Burnham Institute for Medical Reseach.

Investigators were then able to use that information to build a functionally validated map of host-pathogen interactions that are required for viral infection.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies collaborated with Burnham Institute for Medical Research on the study, published in the October 3 issue of Cell.

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