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J Biol Chem. 1994 Jan 14;269(2):986-91.

Strand displacement activity of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase heterodimer and its individual subunits.

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University Zürich-Irchel, Department of Veterinary Biochemistry, Switzerland.


By using a DNA substrate with defined gap size, we found that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase (HIV-RT) was able to perform strand displacement DNA synthesis. This activity was not affected first by calf thymus proliferating cell nuclear antigen and replication factor C and second by Escherichia coli single-stranded DNA-binding protein, which together allow DNA polymerase delta to perform strand displacement DNA synthesis (Podust, V., and Hübscher, U. (1993) Nucleic Acids Res. 21, 841-846). 3'-Azido-2',3'-dideoxythymidine triphosphate inhibited displacement completely, indicating that DNA synthesis is required for this reaction. The HIV-RT p66 polypeptide alone could perform limited strand displacement DNA synthesis, whereas the HIV-RT p51 polypeptide was completely inactive, likely due to its inability to replicate extensively on a M13 DNA template. On the other hand the HIV-RT p51 polypeptide enhanced the strand displacement activity of the HIV-RT p66 subunit at a molar ratio of 4:1, mainly by chasing short products into longer ones. Furthermore, kinetic experiments after complementation of HIV-RT p66 with HIV-RT p51 indicated that HIV-RT p51 can restore rate and extent of strand displacement activity by HIV-RT p66 compared with the HIV-RT heterodimer p66/p51, suggesting a function of the 51-kDa polypeptide.

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