A Yale team devised a way to watch the retrovirus spread in a living organism, and their remarkable video reveals the elaborate movements necessary for the virus to reach and spread in the lymph nodes of a mouse.
"It's all very different than what people thought," said Walther Mothes, associate professor of microbial pathogenesis and co-senior author of a paper describing their discovery in Science.
Using sophisticated imaging technology, the team was able to track the virus that had been tagged with fluorescent dye,
See it for yourself:
This video shows the viral particles binding to macrophages via a sticky protein before opening a rare type of B-cell, (seen in red) and attaching themselves to the tail of B-cells as they are dragged into the interior of the lymph node. In one to two days, these B-cells establish stable connections with tissue, enabling full transmission of the virus.
Using the videos the researchers identified a potential way to prevent HIV from infecting surrounding tissue: by developing developing a method of preventing the sticky protein from binding to macrophages. That would theoretically stop HIV transmission.