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Viruses. 2010 Jul;2(7):1411-26. doi: 10.3390/v2071411. Epub 2010 Jul 5.

Role of Gag in HIV Resistance to Protease Inhibitors.

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Inserm U941, Paris 75010, France.


Cleavage of Gag and Gag-Pol precursors by the viral protease is an essential step in the replication cycle of HIV. Protease inhibitors, which compete with natural cleavage sites, strongly impair viral infectivity and have proven to be highly valuable in the treatment of HIV-infected subjects. However, as with all other antiretroviral drugs, the clinical benefit of protease inhibitors can be compromised by resistance. One key feature of HIV resistance to protease inhibitors is that the mutations that promote resistance are not only located in the protease itself, but also in some of its natural substrates. The best documented resistance-associated substrate mutations are located in, or near, the cleavage sites in the NC/SP2/p6 region of Gag. These mutations improve interactions between the substrate and the mutated enzyme and correspondingly increase cleavage. Initially described as compensatory mutations able to partially correct the loss of viral fitness that results from protease mutations, changes in Gag are now recognized as being directly involved in resistance. Besides NC/SP2/p6 mutations, polymorphisms in other regions of Gag have been found to exert various effects on viral fitness and or resistance, but their importance deserves further evaluation.


Gag; HIV-1; mutations; protease; resistance

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