Fluctuations in Tat copy number when it counts the most: a possible mechanism to battle the HIV latency
Journal article, 2013
The HIV-1 virus can enter a dormant state and become inactive, which reduces accessibility by antiviral drugs. We approach this latency problem from an unconventional point of view, with the focus on understanding how intrinsic chemical noise (copy number fluctuations of the Tat protein) can be used to assist the activation process of the latent virus. Several phase diagrams have been constructed in order to visualize in which regions of the parameter space noise can drive the activation process. Essential to the study is the use of a hyperbolic coordinate system, which greatly facilitates quantification of how the various reaction rate combinations shape the noise behavior of the Tat protein feedback system. We have designed a mathematical manual of how to approach the problem of activation quantitatively, and introduce the notion of an “operating point” of the virus. For both noise-free and noise-based strategies we show how operating point off-sets induce changes in the number of Tat molecules. The major result of the analysis is that for every noise-free strategy there is a noise-based strategy that requires lower dosage, but achieves the same anti-latency effect. It appears that the noise-based activation is advantageous for every operating point.