A collaborative team led by a Northeastern University professor may have altered the way we look at drug development for HIV by uncovering some unusual properties of a human protein called APOBEC3G (A3G).

In an article published in Nature Chemistry, Prof. Mark Williams and his graduate student Kathy Chaurasiya, along with several collaborators, show how these unusual properties help us to fight HIV infection.

It is well known that in response to virus infection, the body makes specific antibodies to counteract the infection. However, we are also born with another way to fight infection, namely through the action of defense proteins that are always present in our system. These proteins provide the first line of defense against invading pathogens. For example, we are all potentially protected against HIV because we have an antiviral protein called A3G. However, HIV has evolved a strategy to circumvent the activity of this protein by tricking our cells into destroying our own A3G proteins. This is where Prof. Williams’s research comes into play.

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