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Mutations in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 integrase D,D(35)E motif do not eliminate provirus formation.

Gaur M., Leavitt A.D.

The core domain of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) integrase (IN) contains a D,D(35)E motif, named for the phylogenetically conserved glutamic acid and aspartic acid residues and the invariant 35 amino acid spacing between the second and third acidic residues. Each acidic residue of the D,D(35)E motif is independently essential for the 3'-processing and strand transfer activities of purified HIV-1 IN protein. Using a replication-defective viral genome with a hygromycin selectable marker, we recently reported that a mutation at any of the three residues of the D,D(35)E motif produces a 10(3)-to 10(4)-fold reduction in infectious titer compared with virus encoding wild-type IN (A. D. Leavitt et al., J. Virol. 70:721-728. 1996). The infectious titer, as measured by the number of hygromycin-resistant colonies formed following infection of cells in culture, was less than a few hundred colonies per microg of p24. To understand the mechanism by which the mutant virions conferred hygromycin resistance, we characterized the integrated viral DNA in cells infected with virus encoding mutations at each of the three residues of the D,D(35)E motif. We found the integrated viral DNA to be colinear with the incoming viral genome. DNA sequencing of the junctions between integrated viral DNA and host DNA showed that (i) the characteristic 5-bp direct repeat of host DNA flanking the HIV-1 provirus was not maintained, (ii) integration often produced a deletion of host DNA, (iii) integration sometimes occurred without the viral DNA first undergoing 3'-processing, (iv) integration sites showed a strong bias for a G residue immediately adjacent to the conserved viral CA dinucleotide, and (v) mutations at each of the residues of the D,D(35)E motif produced essentially identical phenotypes. We conclude that mutations at any of the three acidic residues of the conserved D,D(35)E motif so severely impair IN activity that most, if not all, integration events by virus encoding such mutations are not IN mediated. IN-independent provirus formation may have implications for anti-IN therapeutic agents that target the IN active site.

J. Virol. 72:4678-4685(1998) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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