Submitted by: Christina Sidorowych
Program: Biomedical Visualization
Division: Life Sciences
HIV is a formidable invader and destructive assailant. The virus attacks the immune system and destroys CD4 cells. Understanding the viral life cycle of HIV, its structural biology, and its interplay with the immune system is important to finding novel strategies to mitigate the attack. The HIV surface glycoprotein gp160, composed of gp120 and gp41, is the ‘key’ used by the virus for entry into the CD4 lymphocyte. The virus’ initial engagement with the CD4 cell is attachment of gp120 to the CD4 receptors on the cell’s surface. As the HIV envelope protein binds to the receptor CD4 and then to co-receptor CCR5, it causes a change in conformation and inserts fusion peptides into the cellular membrane, allowing the viral capsid to enter the host cell. As the foreign invader attacks the host, an electrical impulse forms as the proteins attach, grabbing the viewer’s eye. Created with a combination of PDB data and manual modeling in ZBrush and 3Ds Max, this dynamic composition elicits motion and quickly captures the energetic nature of HIV attachment and host cell entry.