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J Virol. 2007 Aug;81(15):7852-9. Epub 2007 May 16.

Selection of mutations in the connection and RNase H domains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase that increase resistance to 3'-azido-3'-dideoxythymidine.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, S818 Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Recent work indicates that mutations in the C-terminal domains of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) increase 3'-azido-3'-dideoxythymidine (AZT) resistance. Because it is not known whether AZT selects for mutations outside of the polymerase domain of RT, we carried out in vitro experiments in which HIV-1(LAI) or AZT-resistant HIV-1(LAI) (M41L/L210W/T215Y) was passaged in MT-2 cells in increasing concentrations of AZT. The first resistance mutations to appear in HIV-1(LAI) were two polymerase domain thymidine analog mutations (TAMs), D67N and K70R, and two novel mutations, A371V in the connection domain and Q509L in the RNase H domain, that together conferred up to 90-fold AZT resistance. Thereafter, the T215I mutation appeared but was later replaced by T215F, resulting in a large increase in AZT resistance ( approximately 16,000-fold). Mutations in the connection and RNase H domains were not selected starting with AZT-resistant virus (M41L/L210W/T215Y). The roles of A371V and Q509L in AZT resistance were confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis: A371V and Q509L together increased AZT resistance approximately 10- to 50-fold in combination with TAMs (M41L/L210W/T215Y or D67N/K70R/T215F) but had a minimal effect without TAMs (1.7-fold). A371V and Q509L also increased cross-resistance with TAMs to lamivudine and abacavir, but not stavudine or didanosine. These results provide the first evidence that mutations in the connection and RNase H domains of RT can be selected in vitro by AZT and confer greater AZT resistance and cross-resistance to nucleoside RT inhibitors in combination with TAMs in the polymerase domain.

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