A cellular housekeeper - the proteasome - may be a target for interfering with retroviral replication, with a trio of papers, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), last week providing evidence that retroviruses hijack the proteasome complex to reproduce virions by budding.

The proteasome is a multi-enzyme complex that carries out a number of essential functions in the cell, including degrading and recycling mis-folded proteins, selectively degrading regulatory proteins and presenting antigens. Inhibitors of the complex already are in clinical trials for cancer and, as the new reports indicate, may represent a new class of HIV drugs. But the multitude of proteasome activities makes