Fidelity of mutant HIV-1 reverse transcriptases: interaction with the single-stranded template influences the accuracy of DNA synthesis

Biochemistry. 1998 Apr 28;37(17):5831-9. doi: 10.1021/bi972672g.


We have used random sequence mutagenesis and complementation in a bacterial selection system to establish a large library of immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) mutants with amino acid substitutions in the beta3-beta4 region of the fingers subdomain [Kim, B., Hathaway, T. R., and Loeb, L. A. (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271, 4872-4878]. We show here that one of these mutants, D76V, exhibits increased accuracy of copying both DNA and RNA templates in a primer extension assay with biased dNTP pools. More detailed analysis of DNA-dependent polymerization showed that the D76V mutation conferred an up to 14-fold increase in fidelity of nucleotide insertion and a 9-fold reduced mutation rate in an M13mp2 lacZalpha forward mutation assay. Substitution at D76 with positively charged (D76R) and nonpolar (D76V and D76I) residues increased replicational accuracy, while substitutions with negatively charged (D76E) and polar residues (D76S and D76C) had little effect on fidelity. We propose that D76 affects replicational accuracy by mediating interaction between the fingers subdomain and the single-stranded template. Our work shows that the Escherichia coli complementation system can yield HIV RT mutants with increased fidelity that have not been isolated from the natural host and that are valuable in understanding the molecular bases of replicational accuracy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Bacteriophage M13 / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonucleotides / chemistry
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / chemistry
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / genetics*
  • Lac Operon
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed*
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • Templates, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Deoxyribonucleotides
  • RNA, Viral
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase