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Biochemistry. 2004 Jul 27;43(29):9332-42.

Backbone dynamics of the RNase H domain of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.

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  • 1Laboratory of Structural Biology, NIEHS, National Institutes of Health, P.O. Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Previous NMR relaxation studies of the isolated RNase H domain of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase at low pH have revealed that it is substantially more dynamic and less ordered than the relatively stable and catalytically active E. coli RNase HI. Using more recently developed techniques, we have investigated the dynamic behavior of the RNase H domain of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase at a more physiological pH (6.8), under a variety of solution conditions: no Mg(2+), 80 mM Mg(2+), and 80 mM Mg(2+) plus AMP ligand. In addition, we have repeated the previous measurements on a sample containing 100 mM sodium acetate, pH 5.4. Under all conditions studied, the order parameters from NMR relaxation analysis are uniformly high (>0.8) for most of the domain with the exception of the C-terminal region. Subtle differences can be found among the conditions studied, although the statistical significance of the differences is marginal. Residues 71-114 show a slight increase in order parameter with the addition of 5'-AMP. Conformational exchange, measured with CPMG relaxation dispersion experiments in the presence of Mg and AMP, were detected for some NH sites, predominantly located in the N-terminal region of the protein near strands beta2 and beta3 and helix alpha(A) (residues 28-69). In contrast with earlier studies indicating pathologically extreme dynamic behavior that apparently correlated with inactivity of the isolated domain, the relaxation analysis under the conditions of the present study yielded parameters that are more similar to those of the active E. coli RNase HI. A comparison of the order parameters obtained from a model-free analysis of the relaxation data with the B-factors in the crystal structures of the RNase H domain, both for the isolated domain and for the full HIV-1 reverse transcriptase structure, suggests that the dynamic behavior is similar in all cases.

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