CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9917; fax(319) 335-8034
Release: March 15, 2000
UI researcher wins $1.18 million grant from the National Institutes of
IOWA CITY, Iowa A University of Iowa Health Care researcher has received
a five-year, $1.18 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
to look at how HIV spreads.
C. Martin Stoltzfus, Ph.D., UI professor of microbiology, is investigating
the "Regulation of HIV-1 RNA Splicing." HIV, or human immunodeficiency
virus, is the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Several steps are necessary for HIV to replicate and infect cells. Splicing,
the process by which some of the HIV RNA is cut into smaller RNAs in the infected
cell, is one, Stoltzfus explained. Packaging, the process by which the remaining
unspliced HIV RNA is packaged into virus particles that will infect other
cells, is another.
"For HIV to replicate, the amounts of RNA devoted to splicing and packaging
must be balanced," Stoltzfus said.
Stoltzfus and his research team want to better understand how HIV RNA replicates
itself within the body. The investigators also want to explore whether interfering
with the replication process can upset the balance and thwart the spread of
Stoltzfus' lab previously showed that several specific regions of HIV RNA
bind to so-called "factors" or proteins within cells infected by
the virus. Once the RNA has attached itself to such a factor, splicing is
"With the new grant, we hope to identify these factors in order to
understand how they prevent splicing," Stoltzfus said. "This information
possibly could be used to design novel antiviral drugs that interfere with
the activity of the factors and prevent the virus from replicating efficiently
in the body."
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UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.