January 2010

Associate Professors Hiroshi Matsuo (MSI Associate Fellow) and Reuben Harris of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics lead a team of researchers studying ways of fighting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Specifically, they are studying a protein called APOBEC3G, or A3G, which can alter the HIV genome by deaminating cytosines to uracils. (Cytosine is one of the bases in DNA; uracil is a base in RNA.) The group’s work was featured in the prestigious journal Nature in 2008, and Professor Harris was recently awarded a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to continue this important research. The graphic shown is an example of a computer-generated image of a model used by the team to graphically depict molecular structures, in this case a superimposition of ten NMR images (modified from Figure 2 in Chen et al., Nature, 452, 116-119 (2008)).