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Aids genome without secrets

Scientists say they have decoded the entire genetic structure of HIV-1 - the main cause of Aids in humans.

The research, led by chemistry professor Kevin Weeks of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be published on Nature.

HIV, like the viruses that cause the flu, hepatitis C and polio, is composed of single stranded RNA, rather than double stranded DNA. RNA is more complex than DNA. It is able to fold into intricate patterns and structures, whereas with DNA, all the genetic information is encoded in the sequence of its building blocks, called nucleotides..

Prior to this study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, researchers had modeled only small parts of the large HIV RNA genome,which is composed of two strands of nearly 10,000 nucleotides each.

The study brings the potential of identifying the roles RNA genomes play in the lifecycles of these viruses.

by S. C.
06 august 2009, Technical Area > Science News