The Pittsburgh Center for HIV Protein Interactions (PCHPI), located in the Department of Structural Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is funded under an NIH initiative to determine the structures of HIV/host complexes. The center was established through a grant (GM082251) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both of the National Institutes of Health. The center is now fully funded by a grant from the NIAID (AI150481).
The biological theme of the PCHPI is the early stages of HIV cellular infection (intracellular trafficking, uncoating, restriction, reverse transcription, nuclear import, PIC components, etc). We are interested in understanding the biology of HIV structural (Capsid) and accessory proteins (Vif and Vpr) and the host proteins with which these proteins interact (Trim5alpha, CPSF6, TNPO3, APOBECs, DCAF1-DDB1). The PCHPI derives spatial atomic and cellular level structures of these proteins using structural methods (X-ray crystallography, solution NMR spectroscopy, solid-state NMR spectroscopy, cryoElectron Microscopy) and, with state-of-the-art imaging methodologies, follows the temporal sequence of events that occur after virus-cell fusion and before HIV genome integration.
The PCHPI brings together scientists and facilities of the highest caliber to elucidate the interactions of HIV proteins with host cell factors. One of our highest priorities is to foster collaborations between HIV researchers and structural biologists; therefore, methodologies and tools developed by the PCHPI are disseminated to the HIV research community at large. Results generated from these collaborations are expected to provide insight into an important area of HIV pathogenesis that is poorly understood and to open doors for exploring and developing alternative anti-HIV strategies.