This space represents the ideas, views, opinions, projects and data of researchers within the Aptamer Stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, a program developed at the University of Texas at Austin. These are projects we currently have in the pipeline.
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Aptamer Selection against HIV-1 Gag p24 to Deter the Spread of HIV--Camille Alilaen
HIV-1 gag p24 is one of the many Gag proteins that play important roles in the life cycle of the HIV virus. This specific protein is instrumental to the reproduction of the virus, as it forms the capsule that contains the virus’ RNA. Because the capsid protein dissolves after the HIV virus enters its host, thus releasing the RNA, it may be used as a marker in detecting the virus early during infection.
Antibodies against HIV-1 gag p24 have been researched already; however, another approach to inhibiting the capsid protein from encapsulating RNA is through aptamers. Nucleic acids have been used as ligands to select against various proteins, and may be used to select against this particular Gag protein. As they may be selected for tight binding as well as high affinity, aptamers may serve as either diagnostically or therapeutically in this case. They may be used for faster detection of the protein as well as an inhibitor to the protein itself.
In conclusion, an aptamer selected against the HIV-1 gag p24 should bind tightly to the protein. This would inhibit the protein from forming the core containing the virus’s genetic information. If the capsid protein were to be inactivated, then an essential part of the formation of the virus would not occur, and the virus would be less likely to spread.
Specific Aim 1: Selection of RNA aptamers against HIV-1 gag p24.
The HIV-1 gag p24 capsid protein has been shown to be essential in the formation of the HIV virus itself. Therefore, an RNA aptamer that works against the protein will inactivate the Gag protein, and will impede the formation of the capsule containing the virus’s RNA. This will impair the spread of the virus in its host, and will hopefully delay the HIV virus from infecting other cells.
Figure 1: HIV-1 Gag p24 is a plays a role in the formation of the capsule containing the RNA of the HIV virus, and will eventually lead to the insert of the virus’s RNA into the host cell. Inhibiting the capsid protein will hinder the spread of viral genes.