The motif D loop of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase is critical for nucleoside 5'-triphosphate selectivity.

Abstract:

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase (RT) has limited homology with DNA and RNA polymerases. The conserved Lys-220 of motif D is a signature of RNA-dependent polymerases. Motif D is located in the "palm" domain and forms a small loop from Thr-215 to Lys-223. This loop is absent from the polymerase I family of DNA-dependent polymerases. Analysis of RT structures in comparison with other polymerases reveals that the motif D loop has the potential to undergo a conformational change upon binding a nucleotide. We find that amino acid changes in motif D affect the interaction of RT with the incoming nucleotide. A chimeric RT in which the loop of motif D is substituted by the corresponding amino acid segment from Taq DNA polymerase lacking this loop has a decreased affinity for incoming nucleotides. We have also constructed a mutant RT where the conserved lysine at position 220 within the motif D is substituted with glutamine. Both RT(K220Q) and the chimeric RT are resistant in vitro to 3'-deoxy 3'-azidothymidine 5'-triphosphate (AZTTP). These results suggest that motif D is interacting with the incoming nucleotide and a determinant of the sensitivity of reverse transcriptases to AZTTP. We do not observe any interaction of motif D with the template primer.

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