Single-nucleotide changes in the HIV Rev-response element mediate resistance to compounds that inhibit Rev function

J Virol. 2011 Apr;85(8):3940-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02683-10. Epub 2011 Feb 2.


Previously we described the identification of two compounds (3-amino-5-ethyl-4,6-dimethylthieno[2,3-b]pyridine-2-carboxamide [103833] and 4-amino-6-methoxy-2-(trifluoromethyl)-3-quinolinecarbonitrile [104366]) that interfered with HIV replication through the inhibition of Rev function. We now describe resistant viral variants that arose after drug selection, using virus derived from two different HIV proviral clones, NL4-3 and R7/3. With HIV(NL4-3), each compound selected a different single point mutation in the Rev response element (RRE) at the bottom of stem-loop IIC. Either mutation led to the lengthening of the stem-loop IIC stem by an additional base pair, creating an RRE that was more responsive to lower concentrations of Rev than the wild type. Surprisingly, wild-type HIV(R7/3) was also found to be inhibited when tested with these compounds, in spite of the fact this virus already has an RNA stem-loop IIC similar to the one in the resistant NL4-3 variant. When drug resistance was selected in HIV(R7/3), a virus arose with two nucleotide changes that mapped to the envelope region outside the RRE. One of these nucleotide changes was synonymous with respect to env, and one was not. The combination of both nucleotide changes appeared to be necessary for the resistance phenotype as the individual point mutations by themselves did not convey resistance. Thus, although drug-resistant variants can be generated with both viral strains, the underlying mechanism is clearly different. These results highlight that minor nucleotide changes in HIV RNA, outside the primary Rev binding site, can significantly alter the efficiency of the Rev/RRE pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Viral*
  • Genes, env / genetics*
  • HIV / drug effects*
  • HIV / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Point Mutation*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • RNA, Viral