The p15 carboxyl-terminal proteolysis product of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase p66 has DNA polymerase activity.

Abstract:

The reverse transcriptase of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 is a heterodimeric protein consisting of two polypeptides with masses of 66 and 51 kDa and has, as a second enzymatic activity, RNase H activity. The 66-kDa polypeptide can be cleaved by the virus-encoded protease to yield polypeptides of 51 and 15 kDa. The latter has been characterized as possessing RNase H activity [Hansen, J., Schultze, T., Mellert, W. & Moelling, K. (1988) EMBO J. 7, 239-243]. We have purified simultaneously the heterodimeric reverse transcriptase/RNase H containing the 66/51-kDa polypeptides and the 15-kDa RNase H from Escherichia coli containing the expression vector pJS 3.7 by a procedure including chromatography on DEAE-cellulose, phosphocellulose, and heparin-Sepharose. Two RNase H and reverse transcriptase peaks were separated on phosphocellulose, one coinciding with the heterodimeric protein and the other with the 15-kDa protein. On the basis of the following findings it appears that the 15-kDa polypeptide has both RNase H and reverse transcriptase activities: (i) it copurified with both activities; (ii) it functioned as a reverse transcriptase in an in situ assay after SDS/polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; (iii) polyclonal antibodies raised against the 66-kDa polypeptide reacted in immunoblots exclusively with a 15-kDa polypeptide, reacted in immunoblots exclusively with a 15-kDa polypeptide, while no immunoreactive bands in the range of 51-66 kDa were seen in the 15-kDa polypeptide preparation; (iv) the p15 and the p66/51 reverse transcriptase could be quantitatively pelleted in an enzymatically active form only when antibodies specific for the p66 carboxyl terminus were used; and (v) the p15 protein had bona fide properties of a reverse transcriptase and could enzymatically synthesize a high molecular weight, alkali-resistant product. The two reverse transcriptases appear to have different behaviors on various template/primer systems tested. Conceivably different forms of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptases might be used in individual steps of (+)- and (-)-strand replication.

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