Researchers report that they have determined the precise chemical structure of the HIV capsid, a protein shell that protects the virus’s genetic material and is a key to its virulence. The capsid has become an attractive target for the development of new antiretroviral drugs.
The report appears in the journal Nature.
Scientists have long sought to understand how the HIV capsid is constructed, and many studies have chipped away at its mystery. Researchers have used a variety of laboratory techniques – cryo-electron microscopy, cryo-EM tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, to name a few – to peer at individual parts of the capsid in revealing detail, or to get a sense of the whole.