HIV-1 and HIV-2 Reverse Transcriptases: Different Mechanisms of Resistance to Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors.

Abstract:

As anti-HIV therapy becomes more widely available in developing nations, it is clear that drug resistance will continue to be a major problem. The related viruses HIV-1 and HIV-2 share many of the same resistance pathways to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). However, clinical data suggests that while HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) usually uses an ATP-dependent excision pathway to develop resistance to the nucleoside analog AZT, HIV-2 RT does not appear to use this pathway. We previously described data that suggested that wild-type (WT) HIV-2 RT has a much lower ability to excise AZTMP than does WT HIV-1 RT, and suggested that this is the reason that HIV-2 RT more readily adopts an exclusion pathway against AZTTP, while HIV-1 RT is better able to exploit the ATP-dependent pyrophosphorolysis mechanism. However, we have now done additional experiments, which show that while HIV-1 RT can adopt either an exclusion- or excision-based resistance mechanism against AZT, HIV-2 RT can only use the exclusion mechanism. All of our attempts to make HIV-2 RT excision-competent did not produce an AZT-resistant RT but instead yielded RTs that were less able to polymerize than WT. This suggests that the exclusion pathway is the only pathway available to HIV-2.

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