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J Biol Chem. 1996 Dec 13;271(50):31957-63.

Mutational anatomy of an HIV-1 protease variant conferring cross-resistance to protease inhibitors in clinical trials. Compensatory modulations of binding and activity.

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Department of Antiviral Research, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486, USA.


Site-specific substitutions of as few as four amino acids (M46I/L63P/V82T/I84V) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease engenders cross-resistance to a panel of protease inhibitors that are either in clinical trials or have recently been approved for HIV therapy (Condra, J. H., Schleif, W. A., Blahy, O. M. , Gadryelski, L. J., Graham, D. J., Quintero, J. C., Rhodes, A., Robbins, H. L., Roth, E., Shivaprakash, M., Titus, D., Yang, T., Teppler, H., Squires, K. E., Deutsch, P. J., and Emini, E. A. (1995) Nature 374, 569-571). These four substitutions are among the prominent mutations found in primary HIV isolates obtained from patients undergoing therapy with several protease inhibitors. Two of these mutations (V82T/I84V) are located in, while the other two (M46I/L63P) are away from, the binding cleft of the enzyme. The functional role of these mutations has now been delineated in terms of their influence on the binding affinity and catalytic efficiency of the protease. We have found that the double substitutions of M46I and L63P do not affect binding but instead endow the enzyme with a catalytic efficiency significantly exceeding (110-360%) that of the wild-type enzyme. In contrast, the double substitutions of V82T and I84V are detrimental to the ability of the protease to bind and, thereby, to catalyze. When combined, the four amino acid replacements institute in the protease resistance against inhibitors and a significantly higher catalytic activity than one containing only mutations in its active site. The results suggest that in raising drug resistance, these four site-specific mutations of the protease are compensatory in function; those in the active site diminish equilibrium binding (by increasing Ki), and those away from the active site enhance catalysis (by increasing kcat/KM). This conclusion is further supported by energy estimates in that the Gibbs free energies of binding and catalysis for the quadruple mutant are quantitatively dictated by those of the double mutants.

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