Certain amino acid substitutions in the reverse transcriptase (RT), including D67N, K70R, T215Y, and K219Q, cause high-level resistance of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to zidovudine (3'-azidothymidine; AZT) and appear to approximate the template strand of the enzyme-template-primer complex in structural models. We studied whether this set of mutations altered RT-template-primer interaction as well as their effect on virus replication in the absence of inhibitor. When in vitro polymerization was limited to a single association of an RT with an oligodeoxynucleotide-primed heteropolymeric RNA template (a single processive cycle), recombinant- expressed mutant 67/70/215/219 RT synthesized 5- to 10-fold more high- molecular-weight DNA products (>200 nucleotides in length) than wild-type RT. This advantage was maintained as deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) concentrations were decreased to limiting levels. In contrast, no difference was seen between wild-type and mutant RTs under conditions allowing repeated associations of enzyme with template-primer. Because intracellular dNTP concentrations are low prior to mitogenic stimulation, we compared replication of mutant 67/70/215/219 virus and wild-type virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) stimulated before and after infection. In the absence of inhibitor, mutant 67/70/215/219 virus had a replication advantage in PBMC stimulated with phytohemagglutinin and interleukin-2 after infection, but virus replication was similar in PBMC stimulated before infection in vitro. The results confirm that RT mutations D67N, K70R, T215Y, and K219Q affect an enzyme-template-primer interaction in vitro and suggest that such substitutions may affect HIV-1 pathogenesis during therapy by increasing viral replication capacity in cells stimulated after infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science