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Title: Unfolding the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase RNase H domain – how to lose a molecular tug-of-war

Formation of the mature HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) p66/p51 heterodimer requires subunit-specific processing of the p66/p66' homodimer precursor. Since the ribonuclease H (RH) domain contains an occult cleavage site located near its center, cleavage must occur either prior to folding or subsequent to unfolding. Recent NMR studies have identified a slow, subunit-specific RH domain unfolding process proposed to result from a residue tug-of-war between the polymerase and RH domains on the functionally inactive, p66' subunit. Here, we describe a structural comparison of the isolated RH domain with a domain swapped RH dimer that reveals several intrinsically destabilizing characteristics of the isolated domain that facilitate excursions of Tyr427 from its binding pocket and separation of helices B and D. These studies provide independent support for the subunit-selective RH domain unfolding pathway in which instability of the Tyr427 binding pocket facilitates its release followed by domain transfer, acting as a trigger for further RH domain destabilization and subsequent unfolding. As further support for this pathway, NMR studies demonstrate that addition of an RH active site-directed isoquinolone ligand retards the subunit-selective RH' domain unfolding behavior of the p66/p66' homodimer. As a result, this study demonstrates the feasibility of directly targeting RT maturation withmore » therapeutics.« less
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  1. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
W-31-109-ENG-38; AC02-06CH11357
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 0305-1048
Oxford University Press
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States