Currently, my research focuses on the interplay between a human protein, APOBEC3G, and the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) viral protein, Vif. I recently identified APOBEC3G as a cellular protein that is highly expressed in T lymphocytes and has potent anti-HIV activity. The possibility of manipulating the APOBEC3G protein as a point of therapeutic intervention is a novel and exciting line of investigation. However, we must first understand both the interaction between Vif and APOBEC3G, and how the cell regulates the expression and function of APOBEC3G. The projects in my lab will be geared toward understanding the regulation of APOBEC3G and whether ultimately manipulating this regulation can significantly enhance and strengthen APOBEC3G anti-viral activity.
Initially, I would like to identify the promoter and putative enhancer regions of the APOBEC3G gene. The successful identification of these regions will lend valuable insight into the specific regulation of this cellular gene that is capable of suppressing HIV infection. Once regions of regulation have been identified, the specifics of how the cell controls this gene expression can be dissected. For example, successful identification of a promoter will delineate which cellular proteins are responsible for controlling APOBEC3G expression. In turn, this determination will allow us to investigate whether we can artificially regulate and manipulate the anti-viral activity of APOBEC3G. And, most importantly, if we can manipulate APOBEC3G, we may be able to boost the cell's ability to defend itself against HIV invasion.