The effect of increased processivity on overall fidelity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase

L. F. Rezende, Y. Kew, V. R. Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We previously reported that two insertions of 15 amino acids in the β3-β4 hairpin loop of fingers subdomain of HIV-1NL4-3 RT confer an increased polymerase processivity. The processivity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reverse transcriptase (RT) is thought to influence the fidelity of HIV-1 RT, which tends to create errors at template sites with high termination probability. Employing the two insertion variants of HIV-1 RT (FE20 and FE103), we examined the relationship between processivity, overall fidelity and error specificity. Although the overall mutation rate was unaffected by increased processivity, one of the mutants, FE103, generated significantly fewer frameshift errors. The other mutant, FE20, generated errors at hotspots not previously observed for HIV-1 RT. Our results indicate that an increase in the polymerase processivity of HIV-1 RT does not necessarily result in a decreased mutation rate and confirm that changes in processivity alter the sequence context in which the errors are made. Furthermore, our results also reveal that the mutation frequency obtained via in vitro gap-filling reactions with wild-type HIV-1NL4-3 RT is only 2-fold higher than that obtained via a single cycle infection assay using the same, wild-type HIV-1NL4-3 RT sequence as part of the helper pol function [Mansky and Temin: J Virol 69:5087-5094;1995].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-205
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Forward mutation rate
  • HIV-1 reverse transcriptase
  • Polymerase processivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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