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Retrovirology. 2009 Feb 11;6:14. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-6-14.

Effects of the K65R and K65R/M184V reverse transcriptase mutations in subtype C HIV on enzyme function and drug resistance.

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McGill University AIDS Centre, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec H3T1E2, Canada.



We investigated the effects of mutations K65R and K65R plus M184V on enzymatic function and mechanisms of drug resistance in subtype C reverse transcriptase (RT).


Recombinant subtype C HIV-1 RTs containing K65R or K65R+M184V were purified from Escherichia coli. Enzyme activities and tenofovir (TFV) incorporation efficiency by wild-type (WT) and mutant RTs of both subtypes were determined in cell-free assays. Efficiency of (-) ssDNA synthesis and initiation by subtype C RTs was measured using gel-based assays with HIV-1 PBS RNA template and tRNA3Lys as primer. Single-cycle processivity was assayed under variable dNTP concentrations. Steady-state analysis was performed to measure the relative inhibitory capacity (ki/km) of TFV-disphosphate (TFV-DP). ATP-dependent excision and rescue of TFV-or ZDV-terminated DNA synthesis was monitored in time-course experiments.


The efficiency of tRNA-primed (-)ssDNA synthesis by subtype C RTs was: WT > K65R > K65R+M184V RT. At low dNTP concentration, K65R RT exhibited lower activity in single-cycle processivity assays while the K65R+M184V mutant showed diminished processivity independent of dNTP concentration. ATP-mediated excision of TFV-or ZDV-terminated primer was decreased for K65R and for K65R+M184V RT compared to WT RT. K65R and K65R+M184V displayed 9.8-and 5-fold increases in IC50 for TFV-DP compared to WT RT. The Ki/Km of TFV was increased by 4.1-and 7.2-fold, respectively, for K65R and K65R+M184V compared to WT RT.


The diminished initiation efficiency of K65R-containing RTs at low dNTP concentrations have been confirmed for subtype C as well as subtype B. Despite decreased excision, this decreased binding/incorporation results in diminished susceptibility of K65R and K65R+M184 RT to TFV-DP.

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