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Organization of HIV-1 pol is critical for Pol polyprotein processing.

Chang Y.Y., Yu S.L., Syu W.J.

The HIV pol sequentially encodes protease (PR), reverse transcriptase (RT), and integrase (IN) from the 5'-3' direction. We explored the significance of this gene arrangement. All six possible gene dispositions were examined. In two situations where PR was removed from the leading place and no two genes were in their original location, viral polyprotein processing was abolished. Processing of the polyprotein did not occur when IN was translocated to the front of PR-RT. However, in the following two arrangements, the polyprotein was processed but only at specific sites. First, PR remained in the leading position while the locations of RT and IN were exchanged; viral polyprotein was processed at a site between the upstream transframe peptide (TF) and PR. Second, PR was placed after RT-IN and located at the distal end of Pol. Processing occurred only at the created junction between TF and RT. These results indicated that cleavage after TF occurred autocatalytically but did not proceed to a second site, which needed an extraneous PR for trans-action. Therefore, arranging Pol in the order of PR-RT-IN warrants the streamline processing of the polyprotein once the autocleavage is initiated.

J. Biomed. Sci. 6:333-341(1999) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]