Gene Stops Cell Growth

A new study from Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons offers fresh insights into how vpr, a gene of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), stops cell growth. The study is one of three recently published papers that attempt to define the mechanism by which the gene disrupts cell replication.

Fabio Re, Douglas Batten, Ettaly Kara Franke, and Jeremy Luban,, of the microbiology and medicine departments of Columbia's medical school, published their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Virology. The other two studies, also published in the Journal of Virology, were conducted at NYU's School of Medicine and UCLA School of Medicine.

Columbia researchers found that vpr stops cells from replicating by blocking the process of cell division at a specific stage, just after the cell has copied its DNA, but before it has divided. This stage of cell division is known as G2. (Cell division begins with stage GO, the resting stage, which is followed by G1, in which the cell prepares to replicate. At S, the cell synthesizes its DNA, and at G2, the cell prepares to divide.

Columbia University Record -- April 19, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 24