Subunit-specific analysis of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase in vivo.
ABSTRACT: The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) is a heterodimer comprised of two structurally distinct subunits (p51 and p66). Since p51 and p66 are derived from the same coding region, subunit-specific structure-function studies of RT have been conducted exclusively by in vitro biochemical approaches. To study RT subunit function in the context of infectious virus, we constructed an LTR-vpr-p51-IRES-p66 expression cassette in which the HIV-1 vpr gene was fused in frame with p51, followed by an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) sequence and the p66 coding region. By coexpression with RT-deficient proviral DNA, we demonstrated that the p66 subunit is specifically and selectively packaged into virions as a Vpr-p51/p66 complex. Our analysis showed that cleavage by the viral protease liberates Vpr and generates functional heterodimeric RT (p51/p66) that supports HIV-1 reverse transcription and virus infection. By exploiting this novel trans-complementation approach, we demonstrated, for the first time with infectious virions, that the YMDD aspartates of p66 are both required and sufficient for RT polymerase function. Mutational analyses of the p51 YMDD aspartates indicated that they play an important structural role in p51 folding and subunit interactions that are required for the formation of an active RT heterodimer within infected cells. Understanding the role of the individual RT subunits in RNA- and DNA-dependent DNA synthesis is integral to our understanding of RT function. Our findings will lead to important new insights into the role of the p51 and p66 subunits in HIV-1 reverse transcription.
Project description:The reverse transcriptase (RT) of all retroviruses is required for synthesis of the viral DNA genome. The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RT exists as a heterodimer made up of 51-kDa and 66-kDa subunits. The crystal structure and in vitro biochemical analyses indicate that the p66 subunit of RT is primarily responsible for the enzyme's polymerase and RNase H activities. Since both the p51 and p66 subunits are generated from the same coding region, as part of the Pr160(Gag-Pol) precursor protein, there are inherent limitations for studying subunit-specific function with intact provirus in a virologically relevant context. Our lab has recently described a novel system for studying the RT heterodimer (p51/p66) wherein a LTR-vpr-p51-IRES-p66 expression cassette provided in trans to an RT-deleted HIV-1 genome allows precise molecular analysis of the RT heterodimer. In this report, we describe in detail the specific approaches, alternative strategies, and pitfalls that may affect the application of this novel assay for analyzing RT subunit structure/function in infectious virions and human target cells. The ability to study HIV-1 RT subunit structure/function in a physiologically relevant context will advance our understanding of both RT and the process of reverse transcription. The study of antiretroviral drugs in a subunit-specific virologic context should provide new insights into drug resistance and viral fitness. Finally, we anticipate that this approach will help elucidate determinants that mediate p51-p66 subunit interactions, which is essential for structure-based drug design targeting RT heterodimerization.
Project description:HIV type I (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) catalyzes the conversion of viral RNA into DNA, initiating the chain of events leading to integration of proviral DNA into the host genome. RT is expressed as a single polypeptide chain within the Gag-Pol polyprotein, and either prior to or following excision by HIV-1 protease forms a 66 kDa chain (p66) homodimer precursor. Further proteolytic attack by HIV-1 protease cleaves the ribonuclease H (RNase H) domain of a single subunit to yield the mature p66/p51 heterodimer. Here, we probe the spatial domain organization within the p66 homodimer using pulsed Q-band double electron-electron resonance (DEER) EPR spectroscopy to measure a large number of intra- and intersubunit distances between spin labels attached to surface-engineered cysteines. The DEER-derived distances are fully consistent with the structural subunit asymmetry found in the mature p66/p51 heterodimer in which catalytic activity resides in the p66 subunit, while the p51 subunit purely serves as a structural scaffold. Furthermore, the p66 homodimer precursor undergoes a conformational change involving the thumb, palm, and finger domains in one of the subunits (corresponding to the p66 subunit in the mature p66/p51 heterodimer) from a closed to a partially open state upon addition of a nonnucleoside inhibitor. The relative orientation of the domains was modeled by simulated annealing driven by the DEER-derived distances. Finally, the RNase H domain that is cleaved to generate p51 in the mature p66/p51 heterodimer is present in 2 major conformers. One conformer is fully solvent accessible thereby accounting for the observation that only a single subunit of the p66 homodimer precursor is susceptible to HIV-1 protease.
Project description:The mature HIV-1 reverse transcriptase is a heterodimer that comprises 66?kDa (p66) and 51?kDa (p51) subunits. The latter is formed by HIV-1 protease-catalyzed removal of a C-terminal ribonuclease H domain from a p66 subunit. This proteolytic processing is a critical step in virus maturation and essential for viral infectivity. Here, we report that tRNA significantly enhances in vitro processing even at a substoichiometric tRNA:p66/p66 ratio. Other double-stranded RNAs have considerably less pronounced effect. Our data support a model where interaction of p66/p66 with tRNA introduces conformational asymmetry in the two subunits, permitting specific proteolytic processing of one p66 to provide the mature RT p66/p51 heterodimer.
Project description:Rilpivirine (RPV) is a second generation nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitor (NNRTI) that efficiently inhibits HIV-1 resistant to first generation NNRTIs. Virological failure during therapy with RPV and emtricitabine is associated with the appearance of E138K and M184I mutations in RT. Here we investigate the biochemical mechanism of RT inhibition and resistance to RPV. We used two transient kinetics approaches (quench-flow and stopped-flow) to determine how subunit-specific mutations in RT p66 or p51 affect association and dissociation of RPV to RT as well as their impact on binding of dNTP and DNA and the catalytic incorporation of nucleotide. We compared WT with four subunit-specific RT mutants, p66(M184I)/p51(WT), p66(E138K)/p51(E138K), p66(E138K/M184I)/p51(E138K), and p66(M184I)/p51(E138K). Ile-184 in p66 (p66(184I)) decreased the catalytic efficiency of RT (k(pol)/K(d)(.dNTP)), primarily through a decrease in dNTP binding (K(d)(.dNTP)). Lys-138 either in both subunits or in p51 alone abrogated the negative effect of p66(184I) by restoring dNTP binding. Furthermore, p51(138K) reduced RPV susceptibility by altering the ratio of RPV dissociation to RPV association, resulting in a net reduction in RPV equilibrium binding affinity (K(d)(.RPV) = k(off.RPV)/k(on.RPV)). Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics hybrid molecular modeling revealed that p51(E138K) affects access to the RPV binding site by disrupting the salt bridge between p51(E138) and p66(K101). p66(184I) caused repositioning of the Tyr-183 active site residue and decreased the efficiency of RT, whereas the addition of p51(138K) restored Tyr-183 to a WT-like conformation, thus abrogating the Ile-184-induced functional defects.
Project description:The N348I mutation at the connection subdomain of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) confers clinically significant resistance to both nucleoside and non-nucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTIs) by mechanisms that are not well understood. We used transient kinetics to characterize the enzymatic properties of N348I RT and determine the biochemical mechanism of resistance to the NNRTI nevirapine (NVP). We demonstrate that changes distant from the NNRTI binding pocket decrease inhibitor binding (increase K(d)(-NVP)) by primarily decreasing the association rate of the inhibitor (k(on-NVP)). We characterized RTs mutated in either p66 (p66(N348I)/p51(WT)), p51 (p66(WT)/p51(N348I)), or both subunits (p66(N348I)/p51(N348I)). Mutation in either subunit caused NVP resistance during RNA-dependent and DNA-dependent DNA polymerization. Mutation in p66 alone (p66(N348I)/p51(WT)) caused NVP resistance without significantly affecting RNase H activity, whereas mutation in p51 caused NVP resistance and impaired RNase H, demonstrating that NVP resistance may occur independently from defects in RNase H function. Mutation in either subunit improved affinity for nucleic acid and enhanced processivity of DNA synthesis. Surprisingly, mutation in either subunit decreased catalytic rates (k(pol)) of p66(N348I)/p51(N348I), p66(N348I)/p51(WT), and p66(WT)/p51(N348I) without significantly affecting affinity for deoxynucleotide substrate (K(d)(-dNTP)). Hence, in addition to providing structural integrity for the heterodimer, p51 is critical for fine tuning catalytic turnover, RNase H processing, and drug resistance. In conclusion, connection subdomain mutation N348I decreases catalytic efficiency and causes in vitro resistance to NVP by decreasing inhibitor binding.
Project description:Efavirenz (EFV) is a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) used for the treatment of AIDS. RT is a heterodimer composed of p66 and p51 subunits; p51 is produced from p66 by C-terminal truncation by HIV protease. The monomers can form p66/p66 and p51/p51 homodimers as well as the p66/p51 heterodimer. Dimerization and efavirenz binding are coupled processes. In the crystal structure of the p66/p51-EFV complex, the drug is bound to the p66 subunit. The binding of efavirenz to wild-type and dimerization-defective RT proteins was studied by equilibrium dialysis, tryptophan fluorescence, and native gel electrophoresis. A 1:1 binding stoichiometry was determined for both monomers and homodimers. Equilibrium dissociation constants are approximately 2.5 microM for both p66- and p51-EFV complexes, 250 nM for the p66/p66-EFV complex, and 7 nM for the p51/p51-EFV complex. An equilibrium dissociation constant of 92 nM for the p66/p51-EFV complex was calculated from the thermodynamic linkage between dimerization and inhibitor binding. Binding and unbinding kinetics monitored by fluorescence were slow. Progress curve analyses revealed a one-step, direct binding mechanism with association rate constants k(1) of approximately 13.5 M(-1) s(-1) for monomers and heterodimer and dissociation rate constants k(-1) of approximately 9 x 10(-5) s(-1) for monomers. A conformational selection mechanism is proposed to account for the slow association rate. These results show that efavirenz is a slow, tight-binding inhibitor capable of binding all forms of RT and suggest that the NNRTI binding site in monomers and dimers is similar.
Project description:Mature enzymes encoded within the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genome (protease (PR), reverse transcriptase (RT) and integrase (IN)) derive from proteolytic processing of a large polyprotein (Gag-Pol). Gag-Pol processing is catalyzed by the viral PR, which is active as a homodimer. The HIV-1 RT functions as a heterodimer (p66/p51) composed of subunits of 560 and 440 amino acid residues, respectively. Both subunits have identical amino acid sequence, but p51 lacks 120 residues that are removed by the HIV-1 PR during viral maturation. While p66 is the catalytic subunit, p51 has a primarily structural role. Amino acid substitutions affecting the stability of p66/p51 (i.e. F130W) have a deleterious effect on viral fitness. Previously, we showed that the effects of F130W are mediated by p51 and can be compensated by mutation T58S. While studying the dynamics of emergence of the compensatory mutation, we observed that mutations in the viral PR-coding region were selected in HIV clones containing the RT substitution F130W, before the imposition of T58S/F130W mutations. The PR mutations identified (G94S and T96S) improved the replication capacity of the F130W mutant virus. By using a trans-complementation assay, we demonstrate that the loss of p66/p51 heterodimer stability caused by Trp130 can be attributed to an increased susceptibility of RT to viral PR degradation. Recombinant HIV-1 PRs bearing mutations G94S or T96S showed decreased dimer stability and reduced catalytic efficiency. These results were consistent with crystallographic data showing the location of both residues in the PR dimerization interface.
Project description:Hydrogen/deuterium exchange (HDX) coupled to mass spectrometry has emerged as a powerful tool for analyzing the conformational dynamics of protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions. Recent advances in instrumentation and methodology have expanded the utility of HDX for the analysis of large and complex proteins; however, asymmetric dimers with shared amino acid sequence present a unique challenge for HDX because assignment of peptides with identical sequence to their subunit of origin remains ambiguous. Here we report the use of differential isotopic labeling to facilitate HDX analysis of multimers using HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) as a model. RT is an asymmetric heterodimer of 51 kDa (p51) and 66 kDa (p66) subunits. The first 440 residues of p51 and p66 are identical. In this study differentially labeled RT was reconstituted from isotopically enriched ((15)N-labeled) p51 and unlabeled p66. To enable detection of (15)N-deuterated RT peptides, the software HDX Workbench was modified to follow a 100% (15)N model. Our results demonstrated that (15)N enrichment of p51 did not affect its conformational dynamics compared to unlabeled p51, but (15)N-labeled p51 did show different conformational dynamics than p66 in the RT heterodimer. Differential HDX-MS of isotopically labeled RT in the presence of the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) efavirenz (EFV) showed subunit-specific perturbation in the rate of HDX consistent with previously published results and the RT-EFV cocrystal structure.
Project description:Crystal structures and simulations suggest that conformational changes are critical for the function of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. The enzyme is an asymmetric heterodimer of two subunits, p66 and p51. The two subunits have the same N-terminal sequence, with the p51 subunit lacking the C-terminal RNase H domain. We used hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry to probe the structural dynamics of RT. H/D exchange revealed that the fingers and palm subdomains of both subunits form the stable core of the heterodimer. In the crystal structure, the tertiary fold of the p51 subunit is more compact than that of the polymerase domain of the p66 subunit, yet both subunits show similar flexibility. The p66 subunit contains the polymerase and RNase H catalytic sites. H/D exchange indicated that the RNase H domain of p66 is very flexible. The beta-sheet beta12-beta13-beta14 lies at the base of the thumb subdomain of p66 and contains highly conserved residues involved in template/primer binding and NNRTI binding. Using the unique ability of hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry to resolve slowly interconverting species, we found that beta-sheet beta12-beta13-beta14 undergoes slow cooperative unfolding with a t(1/2) of <20 s. The H/D exchange results are discussed in relation to existing structural, simulation, and sequence information.
Project description:BACKGROUND: HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) is a heterodimer composed of p66 and p51 subunits and is responsible for reverse transcription of the viral RNA genome into DNA. RT can be post-translationally modified in vitro which may be an important mechanism for regulating RT activity. Here we report detection of different p66 and p51 RT isoforms by 2D gel electrophoresis in virions and infected cells. RESULTS: Major isoforms of the p66 and p51 RT subunits were observed, with pI's of 8.44 and 8.31 respectively (p66(8.44) and p51(8.31)). The same major isoforms were present in virions, virus-infected cell lysates and intracellular reverse transcription complexes (RTCs), and their presence in RTCs suggested that these are likely to be the forms that function in reverse transcription. Several minor RT isoforms were also observed. The observed pIs of the RT isoforms differed from the pI of theoretical unmodified RT (p66(8.53) and p51(8.60)), suggesting that most of the RT protein in virions and cells is post-translationally modified. The modifications of p66(8.44) and p51(8.31) differed from each other indicating selective modification of the different RT subunits. The susceptibility of RT isoforms to phosphatase treatment suggested that some of these modifications were due to phosphorylation. Dephosphorylation, however, had no effect on in vitro RT activity associated with virions, infected cells or RTCs suggesting that the phospho-isoforms do not make a major contribution to RT activity in an in vitro assay. CONCLUSION: The same major isoform of p66 and p51 RT is found in virions, infected cells and RTC's and both of these subunits are post-translationally modified. This post-translational modification of RT may be important for the function of RT inside the cell.