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Biochemistry. 1994 Aug 16;33(32):9405-13.

The HIV-1 protease as enzyme and substrate: mutagenesis of autolysis sites and generation of a stable mutant with retained kinetic properties.

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Biochemistry Unit, Upjohn Laboratories, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.


Site-directed mutagenesis of autolysis sites in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease was applied in an analysis of enzyme specificity; the protease served, therefore, as both enzyme and substrate in this study. Inspection of natural substrates of all retroviral proteases revealed the absence of beta-branched amino acids at the P1 site and of Lys anywhere from P2 through P2'. Accordingly, several mutants of the HIV-1 protease were engineered in which these excluded amino acids were substituted at their respective P positions at the three major sites of autolysis in the wild-type protease (Leu5-Trp6, Leu33-Glu34, and Leu63-Ile64), and the mutant enzymes were evaluated in terms of their resistance to autodegradation. All of the mutant HIV-1 proteases, expressed as inclusion bodies in Escherichia coli, were enzymatically active after refolding, and all showed greatly diminished rates of cleavage at the altered autolysis sites. Some, however, were not viable enzymatically because of poor physical characteristics. This was the case for mutants having Lys replacements of Glu residues at P2' and for another in which all three P1 leucines were replaced by Ile. However, one of the mutant proteases, Q7K/L33I/L63I, was highly resistant to autolysis, while retaining the physical properties, specificity, and susceptibility to inhibition of the wild-type enzyme. Q7K/L33I/L63I should find useful application as a stable surrogate of the HIV-1 protease. Overall, our results can be interpreted relative to a model in which the active HIV-1 protease dimer is in equilibrium with monomeric, disordered species which serve as the substrates for autolysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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