An illustration of the structure of HIV. Credit: David S. Goodsell, RCSB PDB.

If we can visualize a protein's shape, we can learn much more about how it functions and how we might block its activity. This was the guiding principle behind an NIH initiative launched 25 years ago to spur the discovery of HIV-related protein structures. Structures produced through the program have helped paint this detailed picture of the virus and have led to some important classes of drugs to treat the infection.

Featured in the April 21, 2011, issue of Biomedical Beat.