Reverse transcriptase backbone can alter the polymerization and RNase activities of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase mutants K101E+G190S
Previous work by our group showed that human immunodeficiency virus type -1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) containing non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) drug resistance mutations has defects in RNase H activity as well as reduced amounts of RT protein in virions. These deficits correlate with replication fitness in the absence of NNRTIs. Viruses with the mutant combination K101E+G190S replicated better in the presence of NNRTIs than in the absence of drug. Stimulation of virus growth by NNRTIs occurred during the early steps of the virus life-cycle and was modulated by the RT backbone sequence in which the resistance mutations arose. We wanted to determine what effects RT backbone sequence would have on RT content and polymerization and RNase H activities in the absence of NNRTIs. We compared a NL4-3 RT with K101E+G190S to a patient isolate RT sequence D10 with K101E+G190S. We show here that, unlike the NL4-3 backbone, the D10 backbone sequence decreased the RNA-dependent DNA polymerization activity of purified recombinant RT compared to wild type. In contrast, RTs with the D10 backbone had increased RNase H activity compared to wild type and K101E+G190S in the NL4-3 backbone. D10 virions also had increased amounts of RT compared to K101E+G190S in the NL4-3 backbone. We conclude that the backbone sequence of RT can alter the activities of the NNRTI drug resistant mutant, K101E+G190S and that identification of the amino acids responsible will aid in understanding the mechanism by which NNRTI drug resistant mutants alter fitness and NNRTIs stimulate HIV-1 virus replication.
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