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Virology. 2011 May 25;414(1):34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2011.03.007. Epub 2011 Apr 2.

Reverse transcriptase mutation K65N confers a decreased replication capacity to HIV-1 in comparison to K65R due to a decreased RT processivity.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Decatur, GA, USA.


In addition to K65R, the other mutation observed at HIV-1 RT codon 65 is K65N. While K65N appears to have a phenotypic effect similar to K65R, it is less frequent during clinical trials. We compared the relative impact of K→N with respect to K→R change on viral replication capacity (RC). Mutant viruses were created and replication kinetics assays were performed in PBM cells. Analysis of RCs revealed a significant loss in replication (p=0.004) for viruses containing K65N mutation in comparison to those with K65R mutation. RT processivity assays showed a significant decrease in the processivity of K65N RT in comparison to K65R RT. We demonstrated that the significant decrease in RC of K65N viruses is related to the impaired RT processivity of K65N RT in comparison to K65R, and that the selection of the K65R mutation may be favored in clinical use of antiretroviral drugs compared to K65N.

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