Expression of soluble, enzymatically active, human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase in Escherichia coli and analysis of mutants

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Feb;85(4):1218-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.85.4.1218.


We have constructed a plasmid that, when introduced into Escherichia coli, induces the synthesis of large quantities of a protein with an apparent molecular mass of 66 kDa that differs from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA-dependent DNA polymerase (deoxynucleoside-triphosphate:DNA deoxynucleotidyltransferase or reverse transcriptase, EC only in that it has two additional amino-terminal amino acids. This protein is soluble in E. coli extracts, is active in reverse transcriptase assays, and shows inhibition profiles with dideoxy-TTP and dideoxy-GTP that are indistinguishable from the viral enzyme. The deletion of 23 amino-terminal or carboxyl-terminal amino acids or the insertion of 5 amino acids at position 143 substantially decreases the polymerizing activity of the HIV reverse transcriptase made in E. coli. The properties of a 51-kDa reverse transcriptase-related protein made in E. coli suggests that the p51 found in the virion probably does not have substantial polymerizing activity. The full-length HIV reverse transcriptase and the various mutant proteins produced in E. coli should be quite useful for structural and biochemical analyses as well as for the production of antibodies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • HIV / enzymology*
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / biosynthesis*
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Retroviridae Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Retroviridae Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Retroviridae Proteins / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Retroviridae Proteins
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase