Science Market Update

Molecular Biology Researchers Identify Immune-Inhibiting Protein

Posted by BCI Staff on Tue, Aug 30, 2011

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientists have identified a protein, SAMHD1, that may inhibit the body's immune response system.  This finding represents large gains in the way molecular biology understands immunodeficiency.

molecular biology

(Image courtesy of ProteinTech)

Published in the June 30th issue of Nature, Dr. Skowronski, PhD, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology and member for the Center for AIDS Research at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the paper's senior author comments that this discovery has implications for treating HIV.

research scientist

(Image courtesy of CWRU)

According to Dr. Skowronski, "The identification of SAMHD1 and its function may help explain why some infected individuals can control HIV infection better than others. Ultimately, it could also provide a basis for conceiving of new therapies and treatment approaches to block HIV infection and/or its replication in infected individuals, and to stimulate the body's own immune response to HIV."

The protein, SAMHD1, prevents myeloid cells from activating by interfering with the cells' nucleic acid.  Myeloid cells, a subcategory of white blood cells, are key to the immune response system because they contain and display antigens.  In some cases, if the myeloid cells can't display the antigens, then antibodies won't be produced, leaving the body vulnerable to attack.

Dr. Skowronski says that his team will focus on a gaining a further understanding of how SAMHD1 inhibits HIV infection and how SAMHD1 assists the development of AIDS in HIV-infected patients.

Additionally, an independent source, a research team from France, led by Monsef Benkirane, PhD, has also identified SAMHD1 as protein that inhibits myeloid cells.

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Tags: Midwest, Ohio, biomedical research, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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