The overexpression of the alpha 7 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor mediated by the gp120 HIV coating protein
My research is focused on elucidating the mechanism by which the HIV coating protein gp-120 induces an overexpression in the α7 subunit in nAChRs (Nicotinic Acetycholine Receptors) and as a consequence, apoptosis in the brain, specifically in the brain striatum. This causes HIV positive (HIV+) patients to suffer from HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). HAND is a set of neurocognitive impairments that are caused by presence of the gp-120 protein in the CNS (Central Nervous System).The experiments are designed to determine the molecular basis of neuroinflammation caused by the presence of this protein. For this purpose, we will use a set of molecular techniques in order to determine the mouse age at which the mouse starts to overexpress the α-7 subunit. From that point on we will elucidate the coreceptors involved in the process of neuroinflammation caused by apoptosis. Once the coreceptors are elucidated, a set of antagonists will be given in order to test, whether early treatment will be beneficial or will help ameliorate the damages caused by HAND. Hopefully these approaches will hel improve therapeutic strategies for patients suffering from HAND.