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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Mar 1;89(5):1934-8.

Fifth mutation in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase contributes to the development of high-level resistance to zidovudine.

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Department of Molecular Sciences, Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham Kent, United Kingdom.


It is recognized that high-level resistance to 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT, zidovudine, or Retrovir) is conferred by the presence of four mutations in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reverse transcriptase [RT; deoxynucleoside-triphosphate:DNA deoxynucleotidyltransferase (RNA-directed), EC] coding sequence. However, a number of clinical isolates have been observed that exhibit high-level resistance but contain only three of the four identified mutations (Asn-67, Arg-70, and Tyr-215). Construction of a molecular clone with this genotype gave rise to only a partially resistant virus, raising the possibility that an additional mutation existed in some clinical isolates. Using an HIV marker rescue system, we have mapped and identified a fifth mutation conferring resistance to zidovudine, namely, methionine to leucine at codon 41 of HIV RT. An infectious molecular clone containing this mutation together with three previously identified mutations in the RT coding sequence yielded highly resistant HIV after transfection of T cells. Direct detection of the fifth mutation in DNA samples from cocultured peripheral blood lymphocytes by the PCR revealed that it occurred relatively early in the development of zidovudine resistance. However, this mutation was only detected after the appearance of the codon 215 change in the RT coding sequence. Identification of this mutation in addition to the other known mutations conferring resistance enables rapid and direct correlation between an RT genotype and sensitivity of the virus.

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