Researchers from the Whitehead Institute last week published in Science their design of 5-Helix, a protein that inhibits HIV-1 entry into cells by binding gp41, an envelope protein crucial to membrane fusion. The design of 5-Helix represents a new way to use gp41 as a target for HIV therapeutics, using a methodology that potentially could be extended to inhibit membrane fusion of a variety of viruses.

It has long been known that during HIV-1 membrane fusion, gp41 interacts with the target cell and then loops so that three alpha helices on the amino (NH2) terminal end of the protein bind three