Catalytic properties of the reverse transcriptases of human immunodeficiency viruses type 1 and type 2

A. Hizi, R. Tal, M. Shaharabany, S. Loya

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The enzyme reverse transcriptase (RT) is crucial in the early steps of the life cycle of retroviruses. We have expressed in bacteria the RTs from human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) types 1 and 2 in order to study the structural-functional relationships of these two multifunctional enzymes that share a relatively high degree of amino acid sequence homology. For comparison purposes, we have analyzed several catalytic functions of both enzymes. The two HIV RTs show a high similarity in many aspects studied but exhibit profound differences in several other properties. For instance, the specific RNase H activity of HIV-2 RT is about 10 times lower than the corresponding activity of HIV-1 RT. There are also significant dissimilarities between some of the apparent K(m) values calculated for the DNA polymerizing functions of both enzymes. Furthermore, the heat stability of the DNA polymerizing activity of HIV-2 RT is about 15-fold higher than that of HIV-1 RT. On the other hand, the susceptibility of the RNase H activities of the two enzymes to heat inactivation was found to be similar. Other treatments also enable discrimination between the RNase H and DNA polymerizing catalytic properties of the two enzymes (although both reverse transcriptases respond similarily). Thus, the RNase H activity was inactivated by N-ethylmaleimide, suggesting the possible involvement of cysteine residues in performing this activity, whereas the DNA polymerizing functions of the two enzymes were fully resistant to this chemical modification. The zinc chelator 1,10-phenanthroline affected the DNA polymerase activities of both enzymes to a significantly higher extent than the RNase H activity. In all, the two HIV RTs were shown to be substantially different one from the other in several of their properties and also distinct from other RTs thus far studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6230-6239
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991


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