Nucleic Acid Aptamer Selection Against HIV-1 Gag p24 for the Prevention of Viral Capsid Formation and Stabilization.

Cody Grissom

One of the many hinderances in the long fought and continuing battle against HIV in human society is trying to find multiple drugs that combat viral production in infected patients. An area of research that is currently underway deals with selecting aptamers against certain structural components of the virus, such as HIV Gag p24. HIV Gag p24 is a structural component of the viral capsid in every known strain of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is a product of the Gag gene and plays an essential role in stabilizing the capsid and the genetic material that it houses.

In the lytic cycle of viruses, capsids are generated and the numerous copies of genetic material are packaged inside just before cell lysis. The capsid acts as a protective shield against molecules that could potentially damage the genetic material. By selecting aptamers against HIV-1 Gag p24, the capsid formation of the viral progeny could potentially be significantly hindered, thus slowing down the infection process as a whole.

Finding an aptamer or multiple aptamers that can bind to HIV-1 Gag p24 could be a major breakthrough in the battle against HIV infection, and ultimately, the acquiring of AIDS in society.

Specific Aim: Selecting RNA based aptamers against HIV-1 Gag p24.

HIV-1 Gag p24 is a biomolecule that provides structure and stability to the capsid of every strain of HIV. Using the HIV-1 strain for experimentation, selecting aptamers that can proficiently change the structure and function of HIV-1 Gag p24 will be attempted, preventing the capsids of the viral progeny from forming. Without a capsid, the virus would be rendered nonfunctional.

**Note: HIV-1 Gag p24 is available in a 50 ug quantity from Thermo Scientific ( for $1,059.87.




    Here is the link to my Final Manuscript. **Please note that the updated abstract is a part of this link.


Travis Hughes said...

I see that you understand how gag p24 works and its application. I like that you mentioned that gag p24 is a conserved protein from strain to strain in HIV. That is very important when regarding the therapeutic use of an aptamer binding to gag p24.
I do have some advice regarding the language of the abstract. I would avoid using statements like "Finding an aptamer or multiple aptamers that can bind to HIV-1 Gag p24 could be a major breakthrough in the battle against HIV infection, and ultimately, the acquiring of AIDS in society." It's not your job to write about the societal or sweeping effects of your research in the abstract. It’s ok to say that an aptamer binding to the gag p24 protein could inhibit viral formation, however, any speculation past that is pretty thin without further investigation. Keep abstracts focused on, required background, the goal of your research, briefly how you are going to do it (or have done it), and a concise interpretation of results.

I'm going to copy and paste part of my comment on Camille's abstract:
An aptamer that binds to gag p24 would be a great candidate for binding to the supercharged protein complex that Andy was talking about today in class. In order for the aptamer to have therapeutic effect, it has to inhibit viral capsid formation within the infected cell. I can only imagine that extracellular viral particles would be largely unaffected by a gag p24 binding apatamer. However, the idea of selecting an aptamer against this target is to halt the viral formation at an essential and highly conserved point within the infected cell.

Cody Grissom said...

Ok. That makes perfect sense. I understand that what I stated in the abstract was information that doesn't pertain to the experiment, but involves the societal implications instead. I agree that that does not really belong in the abstract and I have already begun making modifications to it for future usage. Oh, and your comment was not harsh at all, you had me thinking that I screwed up epically on it when you told me that, but anyway thank you for your advice and considerations.

Vivian Esparza said...

Are there any other structural components of the viral capsid found in all HIV?

Dustin said...

Cool idea. Are you planning on physically blocking capsid formation with this aptamer? Or is the aptamer supposed to genetically stop the production of the gag p24 protein?

Alec Rezigh said...

Nice job, Cody. I agree with what Travis has said. He is a great resource here and I hope you use it to your advantage. Best of luck with your selection.

Camille said...

I'm glad that we are working on the same target. Will the aptamer serve better as a marker or as a therapeutic?

Leta Ko said...

Would this help in the process of completely stopping the spread of the virus? or just temporally?