Crystal structure at 3.5 A resolution of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase complexed with an inhibitor

Science. 1992 Jun 26;256(5065):1783-90. doi: 10.1126/science.1377403.


A 3.5 angstrom resolution electron density map of the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase heterodimer complexed with nevirapine, a drug with potential for treatment of AIDS, reveals an asymmetric dimer. The polymerase (pol) domain of the 66-kilodalton subunit has a large cleft analogous to that of the Klenow fragment of Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I. However, the 51-kilodalton subunit of identical sequence has no such cleft because the four subdomains of the pol domain occupy completely different relative positions. Two of the four pol subdomains appear to be structurally related to subdomains of the Klenow fragment, including one containing the catalytic site. The subdomain that appears likely to bind the template strand at the pol active site has a different structure in the two polymerases. Duplex A-form RNA-DNA hybrid can be model-built into the cleft that runs between the ribonuclease H and pol active sites. Nevirapine is almost completely buried in a pocket near but not overlapping with the pol active site. Residues whose mutation results in drug resistance have been approximately located.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Azepines / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography
  • DNA Polymerase I / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • HIV-1 / enzymology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nevirapine
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*


  • Azepines
  • Pyridines
  • Nevirapine
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • DNA Polymerase I