The Pathogenesis Of Human Immunodeficiency Virus

2012 words - 9 pages

The human immunodeficiency virus, known more commonly as HIV or by the syndrome it ultimately leads to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDs, is caused by a RNA retrovirus.1 Morphologically, the virus appears spherical in shape and is enveloped made from two layers – both being primarily built using lipids taken from host cell membranes.2 Specifically, human cell membranes are taken up by the virus as it buds from the host cell2 after the host cell approaches death from the inability to meet its own physiological needs. Likewise, because the hosts’ membrane coats or more accurately ‘envelopes’ the virus, the hosts’ proteins are embedded within the membrane and on the membrane’s surface as well.2 However, the last essential component to the virus’ morphology is the proteins that aren’t from the host that are also embedded into the envelope. In fact, these proteins called Env proteins are a complex HIV protein encoded for by the virus which is produced by the host, but not inherent to the host cell itself. What this Env proteins on the viral envelope do is that they form a cap made of three glycoprotein 120 (gp120) molecules as well as an attached stem for those 3 gp120 molecules made of glycoprotein 41 (gp41) that, when combined, act as a virulence factor by helping to both maintain the host cell membrane-envelope stability and to act as a means of attaching to more host cells as well.2 Moving on away from the envelope, the capsid of HIV is bullet-shaped, and made up mainly with about 2000 copies of viral protein p24 which surround 2 single-stranded RNA molecules characteristic of HIV.2
Continuing on from the inside of HIV, the RNA strands it carries may encode for virulence factor genes. Notable genes include nef which is a necessary component during the replication of the virus, vpu which encodes for proteins that enable the release of newly formed virions from the infected host (virulence factor that is necessary for continued infection), and genes that continue to be discovered such as the vif gene which acts in opposition to antiviral proteins of the host such as APOBEC3G to further enhance HIV invasion.2 Lastly, the other main virulence factors for HIV found within the capsid are proteins reverse transcriptase (essential to reverse transcribe HIV RNA strands into DNA strands), integrase (essential to integrate the virally reverse transcribed DNA into the host chromosomes), and other proteases to break down host cell defenses.2
Aside from general composition, HIV comes in 2 forms – HIV-1 and HIV2 – however, both perform the same function: they destroy T-helper cells which are essential the cell-mediated (adaptive) immunity, and thereby cause humans to have compromised immune systems with respect to future encounters with unknown (to the body’s immune system at least) pathogens.1 Concerning virulence, both ‘types’ of HIV also have basically the same transmission methods, albeit HIV-1 tends to be more virulent of the two having almost...

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