LOS ANGELES, March 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. researchers have discovered the genetic circuit in HIV that controls whether the virus turns active or stays dormant, and have succeeded in forcing the virus toward dormancy.
The study shows how a developmental decision between HIV's two "replication fates" is made. The authors were able to measure the level of "noise" or randomness in HIV gene expression and use this noise to probe how HIV decides to replicate or remain dormant.
This method is somewhat like finding a radio station by homing in on regions with the most static. It provides a new tool for probing cellular and viral regulation, and for understanding how other biological decisions are made, notably how stem cells choose between different developmental fates.