Researcher Discovers Shape of Proteins Important in HIV and Cancer
The Joint Center for Integral Membrane Protein Technologies-Complexes (JCIMPT-Complexes) at the Scripps Research Institute headed by Dr. Raymond C. Stevens, funded in part by the Common Fund’s Structural Biology Program, has determined the three-dimensional structure of CXCR4, a cellular protein important for HIV infection as well as the growth and metastasis of many types of cancer. A recent paper by Dr. Stevens and colleagues, published in the October 7th advance online issue of the journal Science, describes the molecular structure of the CXCR4 protein bound to molecules known to inhibit CXCR4’s function. This study reveals that the location and the shape of the sites where inhibitory molecules bind is very different between CXCR4 and other closely related proteins. Using knowledge of these binding sites, researchers may one day develop new strategies to design drugs that bind CXCR4 to block HIV infection or stall the spread of some cancers.