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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10;286(23):20615-24. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.226100. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Thymidine analogue excision and discrimination modulated by mutational complexes including single amino acid deletions of Asp-67 or Thr-69 in HIV-1 reverse transcriptase.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


Single amino acid deletions in the β3-β4 hairpin loop of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) have been identified in heavily treated patients. The deletion of Asp-67 together with mutations T69G and K70R (Δ67 complex) are usually associated with thymidine analog resistance mutations (TAMs) (e.g. M41L, T215Y, etc.) while the deletion of Thr-69 (Δ69) is rarely found in isolates containing TAMs. Here, we show that the complex Δ67/T69G/K70R enhances ATP-dependent phosphorolytic activity on primers terminated with 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT) or 2',3'-didehydro-2',3'-dideoxythymidine (d4T) both in the presence or absence of TAMs (i.e. M41L/T215Y), while Δ69 (or the complex S68G/Δ69/K70G) antagonize the effects of TAMs in ATP-mediated excision. These effects are consistent with AZT susceptibility data obtained with recombinant HIV-1 bearing the relevant RTs. Molecular dynamics studies based on models of wild-type HIV-1 RT and mutant Δ69, Δ67/T69G/K70R, and D67N/K70R RTs support a relevant role for Lys/Arg-70 in the excision reaction. In Δ69 RT, the side chain of Lys-70 locates away from the putative pyrophosphate binding site. Therefore, its participation in interactions required for the excision reaction is unlikely. Our theoretical studies also suggest a role for Lys-219 in thymidine analog excision/discrimination. However, pre-steady-state kinetics revealed only minor differences in selectivity of AZT-triphosphate versus dTTP between deletion-containing RTs and their homologous enzymes having the K219E mutation. K219E reduced both ATP- and pyrophosphate-mediated excision of primers terminated with thymidine analogues, only when introduced in RTs bearing Δ69 or S68G/Δ69/K70G, providing further biochemical evidence that explains the lack of association of Δ69 and TAMs in HIV-1 isolates.

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