Impact of primer-induced conformational dynamics of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase on polymerase translocation and inhibition

J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 26;286(34):29575-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.268235. Epub 2011 Jul 7.


The rapid emergence and the prevalence of resistance mutations in HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) underscore the need to identify RT inhibitors with novel binding modes and mechanisms of inhibition. Recently, two structurally distinct inhibitors, phosphonoformic acid (foscarnet) and INDOPY-1 were shown to disrupt the translocational equilibrium of RT during polymerization through trapping of the enzyme in the pre- and the post-translocation states, respectively. Here, we show that foscarnet and INDOPY-1 additionally display a shared novel inhibitory preference with respect to substrate primer identity. In RT-catalyzed reactions using RNA-primed substrates, translocation inhibitors were markedly less potent at blocking DNA polymerization than in equivalent DNA-primed assays; i.e. the inverse pattern observed with marketed non-nucleoside inhibitors that bind the allosteric pocket of RT. This potency profile was shown to correspond with reduced binding on RNA·DNA primer/template substrates versus DNA·DNA substrates. Furthermore, using site-specific footprinting with chimeric RNA·DNA primers, we demonstrate that the negative impact of the RNA primer on translocation inhibitor potency is overcome after 18 deoxyribonucleotide incorporations, where RT transitions primarily into polymerization-competent binding mode. In addition to providing a simple means to identify similarly acting translocation inhibitors, these findings suggest a broader role for the primer-influenced binding mode on RT translocation equilibrium and inhibitor sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Catalysis
  • DNA Primers / chemistry*
  • DNA Primers / metabolism
  • DNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / chemistry*
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / metabolism
  • HIV-1 / enzymology*
  • Indoles / chemistry*
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Nitriles / chemistry*
  • Nitriles / metabolism
  • Pyridones / chemistry*
  • Pyridones / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry*
  • Reverse Transcription / physiology


  • 5-methyl-1-(4-nitrophenyl)-2-oxo-2,5-dihydro-1H-pyrido(3,2-b)indole-3-carbonitrile
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Viral
  • Indoles
  • Nitriles
  • Pyridones
  • RNA, Viral
  • reverse transcriptase, Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase