Since the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) was identified as the etiologic agent of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) has been the subject of intensive study. The reverse transcription entails the transition of the single-stranded viral RNA into double-stranded proviral DNA, which is then integrated into the host chromosome. Therefore, the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase plays a pivotal role in the life cycle of the virus and is consequently an interesting target for anti-HIV drug therapy. In the first section, we describe the complex process of reverse transcription and the different activities involved in this process. We then highlight the structure-function relationship of the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, which is of great importance for a better understanding of resistance development, a major problem in anti-AIDS therapies. Finally, we summarize the mechanisms of HIV resistance toward various RT inhibitors and the implications thereof for the current anti-HIV drug therapies.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.