Effects of the Delta67 complex of mutations in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase on nucleoside analog excision.


Long-term use of combination therapy against human immunodeficiency virus type (HIV-1) provides strong selective pressure on the virus, and HIV-1 variants that are resistant to multiple inhibitors have been isolated. HIV-1 variants containing amino acid substitutions within the coding region of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT), such as the 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT)-resistant variant AZT-R (M41L/D67N/K70R/T215Y/K219Q) and a variant containing an insertion in the fingers domain (S69SGR70/T215Y), are resistant to the nucleoside RT inhibitor (NRTI) AZT because of an increase in the level of excision of AZT monophosphate (AZTMP) from the primer. While rare, variants have also been isolated which contain deletions in the RT coding region. One such virus, described by Imamichi et al. (J. Virol 74:10958-10964, 2000; J. Virol. 74:1023-1028, 2000; J. Virol. 75:3988-3992, 2001), contains numerous amino acid substitutions and a deletion of codon 67, which we have designated the Delta67 complex of mutations. We have expressed and purified HIV-1 RT containing these mutations. We compared the polymerase and pyrophosphorolysis (excision) activity of an RT with the Delta67 complex of mutations to wild-type RT and the two other AZT-resistant variants described above. All of the AZT-resistant variants we tested excise AZTMP and 9-[2-(R)-(phosphonomethoxy)propyl]adenine (PMPA [tenofovir]) from the end of a primer more efficiently than wild-type RT. Although the variant RTs excised d4TMP less efficiently than AZTMP and PMPA, they were able to excise d4TMP more efficiently than wild-type RT. HIV-1 RT containing the Delta67 complex of mutations was not able to excise as broad a range of NRTIs as the fingers insertion variant SSGR/T215Y, but it was able to polymerize efficiently with low concentrations of deoxynucleoside triphosphates and seems to be able to excise AZTMP and PMPA at lower ATP concentrations than AZT-R or SSGR/T215Y, suggesting that a virus containing the Delta67 complex of mutations would replicate reasonably well in quiescent cells, even in the presence of AZT.





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