Locations of anti-AIDS drug binding sites and resistance mutations in the three-dimensional structure of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. Implications for mechanisms of drug inhibition and resistance

J Mol Biol. 1994 Oct 28;243(3):369-87. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1994.1665.


The locations of HIV-1 RT nucleoside and non-nucleoside inhibitor-binding sites and inhibitor-resistance mutations are analyzed in the context of the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme and implications for mechanisms of drug inhibition and resistance are discussed. In order to help identify residues that may play a role in inhibitor binding, solvent accessibilities of amino acids that comprise the inhibitor-binding sites in the structure of HIV-1 RT complexed with a dsDNA template-primer are analyzed. While some mutations that cause resistance to nucleoside analogs, such as AZT, ddI, and ddC, are located near enough to the dNTP-binding site to directly interfere with binding of nucleoside analogs, many are located away from the dNTP-binding site and more likely confer resistance by other mechanisms. Many of the latter mutations are located on the surface of the DNA-binding cleft and may lead to altered template-primer positioning or conformation, causing a distortion of the geometry of the polymerase active site and consequent discrimination between normal and altered dNTP substrates. Other nucleoside analog-resistance mutations located on the periphery of the dNTP-binding site may exert their effects via altered interactions with dNTP-binding site residues. The structure of the hydrophobic region in HIV-1 RT that binds non-nucleoside inhibitors, for example, nevirapine and TIBO, has been analyzed in the absence of bound ligand. The pocket that is present when non-nucleoside inhibitors are bound is not observed in the inhibitor-free structure of HIV-1 RT with dsDNA. In particular it is filled by Tyr181 and Tyr188, suggesting that the pocket is formed primarily by rotation of these large aromatic side-chains. Existing biochemical data, taken together with the three-dimensional structure of HIV-1 RT, makes it possible to propose potential mechanisms of inhibition by non-nucleoside inhibitors. One such mechanism is local distortion of HIV-1 RT structural elements thought to participate in catalysis: the beta 9-beta 10 hairpin (which contains polymerase active site residues) and the beta 12-beta 13 hairpin ("primer grip"). An alternative possibility is restricted mobility of the p66 thumb subdomain, which is supported by the observation that structural elements of the non-nucleoside inhibitor-binding pocket may act as a "hinge" for the thumb.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase
  • HIV-1 / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Protein Conformation*
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase