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Michael Linde

This study should not be surprising. It is very easy to focus on viral factors and forget that HIV is an obligate intracellular parasite. As an RNA virus, HIV's genome is limited in size, encoding only a handful of viral proteins; the virus needs to subvert the normal cellular processes to be successful.

The involvement of host factors goes well beyond entry, trafficking and replication. Virions carry hundreds of different host proteins--look at a mass spectometry paper by Chertova and colleagues in the Journal of Virology from a couple of years ago and you'll see just loads of host proteins in the virus. The viral envelope looks more like an immunologic synapse than a virus.

Hopefully studies like these will spur more interest in the HIV-host factor interplay. I still see a glaring lack of interest in this regard in the vaccine and drug development fields. Even in the basic science labs, most people do not work on host factors (well, if you exclude APOBEC). Host factors will be easier to target than viral factors and my own personal belief is that if we target viral factors, the virus will always win.

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