Human immunodeficiency viras type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) contains four structural motifs (A, B, C, and D) that are conserved in polymerases from diverse organisms. Motif B interacts with the incoming nucleotide, the template strand, and key active-site residues from other motifs, suggesting that motif B is an important determinant of substrate specificity. To examine the functional role of this region, we performed "random scanning mutagenesis" of 11 motif B residues and screened replication-competent mutants for altered substrate analog sensitivity in culture. Single amino acid replacements throughout the targeted region conferred resistance to lamivudine and/or hypersusceptibility to zidovudine (AZT). Substitutions at residue Q151 increased the sensitivity of HIV-1 to multiple nucleoside analogs, and a subset of these Q151 variants was also hypersusceptible to the pyrophosphate analog phosphonoformic acid (PFA). Other AZT-hypersusceptible mutants were resistant to PFA and are therefore phenotypically similar to PFA-resistant variants selected in vitro and in infected patients. Collectively, these data show that specific amino acid replacements in motif B confer broad-spectram hypersusceptibility to substrate analog inhibitors. Our results suggest that motif B influences RT-deoxynucleoside triphosphate interactions at multiple steps in the catalytic cycle of polymerization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science