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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2004 Dec;20(12):1324-34.

Inhibition of HIV type 1 replication using lentiviral-mediated delivery of mutant tRNA(Lys3)A58U.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


In previous studies, we showed that residue A58 of cellular tRNALys3 is necessary for appropriate termination of viral plus-strand strong-stop DNA (+SS DNA), and therefore plays a critical role in the life cycle of HIV-1. We also performed proof-of-principle studies that established that a mutant form of this tRNA primer (tRNA(Lys3)A58U, which lacks the M1A58 residue necessary for +SS DNA termination) could inhibit HIV-1 replication. In the present work, we examined whether a third generation lentiviral vector (SIN) could be used to deliver tRNA(Lys3)A58U to CEM cells. Using both viral kinetic studies and limiting dilution assays (LDA), we observed significant impairment of HIV-1 replication, up to 3 logs in the LDA, in CEM sublines expressing mutant tRNA(Lys3)A58U. No inhibition occurred in cells that either expressed wild-type tRNA(Lys3) or were transduced with empty SIN vector. Further, we observed impairment of viral replication using primary isolates of both HIV-1 and HIV-2 in sublines containing tRNA(Lys3)A58U. We also detected "breakthrough" HIV-1 replication in some tRNA(Lys3)A58U-expressing cultures. Interestingly, analyzed breakthrough viruses appeared to be both genetically and phenotypically wild type. One possible explanation for virological breakthrough is that it reflects the gradual accumulation of HIV-1 within the infected cell culture, to a level that ultimately exceeds the containment "threshold" conferred by tRNA(Lys3)A58U. The fact that HIV-1 does not appear to acquire heritable resistance to tRNA(Lys3)A58U-mediated blockade differentiates this antiviral modality from other therapeutic interventions. It also suggests that tRNA-mediated inhibition of viral replication might be a valuable adjunct to other antiviral approaches.

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