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J Biol Chem. 1991 Nov 5;266(31):20583-5.

A recombinant ribonuclease H domain of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase that is enzymatically active.

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Department of Biochemistry, Upjohn Laboratories, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.


We report here a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) recombinant ribonuclease H (RNase H) domain engineered to contain an N-terminal tag for its isolation by affinity chromatography. The purified protein is active in hydrolyzing RNA-DNA hybrids in two separate in vitro assay systems. In light of recent reports of similar HIV-1 RNase H domains which were enzymatically inactive (Becerra, S. P., Clore, G. M., Gronenborn, A. M., Karlstrom, A. R., Stahl, S. J., Wilson, S.M., and Wingfield, P.T. (1990) FEBS Lett. 270, 76-80; Hostomsky, Z., Hostomska, Z., Hudson, G. O., Moomaw, E. W., and Nodes, B. R. (1991) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 88, 1148-1152), our results suggest that a stretch of 20-30 residues immediately upstream of the polymerase-RNase H junction (residues 440-441 of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase) may be required for productive binding and alignment of the hybrid RNA-DNA substrate. The active HIV-1 RNase H domain is suitable for structural analysis, thereby providing a unique active molecule to better understand the structural basis for the functional organization of RNase associated with the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.

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