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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1994 Sep;10(9):1117-24.

Analysis of HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase expression in a human cell line.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.


The functional analysis of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) subunits on transient and constitutive expression, in the absence or presence of the HIV-1 protease (PR) expression, in a human cell line is described. HIV-1 RT is a heterodimer composed of a 51-kDa subunit (p51) and a 66-kDa subunit (p66). Cloning and expression of the RT region of the HIV-1 pol gene in the HT-1080 human fibrosarcoma cell line yielded p66 without any detectable p51 and a low level of RT activity could be measured. Transient expression of PR and RT in cis generated p51 and p66, but when RT and PR were expressed in trans only p66 was produced. Attempts to establish a stable cell line expressing the PR-RT region of the pol gene were hampered by an apparent intolerance of HT-1080 cells to the HIV-1 PR expression. Therefore, to generate p51 independent of PR expression, the 51-kDa subunit was cloned separately. p51 lacked detectable RT activity. Coexpression of p51 and p66 resulted in a dramatic increase in RT activity. Stable HT-1080 cells producing both p51 and p66 exhibited on average a 15-fold increase in RT activity compared to the parental cell line. Immunofluorescence revealed a diffuse cytoplasmic localization of p51 and p66. To date, this is the first example of a human cell line that is constitutively expressing HIV-1 RT in the absence of HIV-1 infection.

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