The Molecules of HIV

Note: this site last updated in 2006


An article from "The Molecules of HIV" (c) Dan Stowell

Protease is vital to HIV function - it helps to process the gag and pol proteins (at the same time as, or shortly after, the virus buds from the cell surface) into functional forms.

What it actually does is to cut certain proteins at certain points: the gag and gag-pol">gag-pol proteins produced from the HIV genome are long things which are like HIV's proteins allconnectedoneaftertheother, and protease is needed to make the vital snips to cut these large precursors into the right pieces.

Protease inhibitors (such as lopinavir, amprenavir) are a component of many highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatments.

A number of studies have found that protease inhibitors can slightly increase a person's chances of heart disease. The reason for this seems to be that protease inhibitors increase the amount of CD36 cell surface protein on macrophages, and this means they can have an increased uptake of cholesterol. More information:

More information:

Written by
Dan Stowell

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