Viral organization of human proteins
Although maps of intracellular interactions are increasingly well characterized, little is known about large-scale maps of host-pathogen protein interactions. The investigation of host-pathogen interactions can reveal features of pathogenesis and provide a foundation for the development of drugs and disease prevention strategies. A compilation of experimentally verified interactions between HIV-1 and human proteins and a set of HIV-dependency factors (HDF) allowed insights into the topology and intricate interplay between viral and host proteins on a large scale. We found that targeted and HDF proteins appear predominantly in rich-clubs, groups of human proteins that are strongly intertwined among each other. These assemblies of proteins may serve as an infection gateway, allowing the virus to take control of the human host by reaching protein pathways and diversified cellular functions in a pronounced and focused way. Particular transcription factors and protein kinases facilitate indirect interactions between HDFs and viral proteins. Discerning the entanglement of directly targeted and indirectly interacting proteins may uncover molecular and functional sites that can provide novel perspectives on the progression of HIV infection and highlight new avenues to fight this virus.