Catalytic efficiency and vitality of HIV-1 proteases from African viral subtypes

Adrian Velazquez-Campoy, Matthew J. Todd, Sonia Vega, Ernesto Freire

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120 Scopus citations


The vast majority of HIV-1 infections in Africa are caused by the A and C viral subtypes rather than the B subtype prevalent in the United States and Western Europe. Genomic differences between subtypes give rise to sequence variations in the encoded proteins, including the HIV-1 protease. Because some amino acid polymorphisms occur at sites that have been associated with drug resistance in the B subtype, it is important to assess the effectiveness of protease inhibitors that have been developed against different subtypes. Here we report the enzymatic characterization of HIV-1 proteases with sequences found in drug-naïve Ugandan adults. The A protease used in these studies differs in seven positions (I13V/E35D/M36I/R41K/R57K/H69K/L89M) in relation to the consensus B subtype protease. Another protease containing a subset of these amino acid polymorphisms (M36I/R41K/H69K/L89M), which are found in subtype C and other HIV subtypes, also was studied. Both proteases were found to have similar catalytic constants, kcat, as the B subtype. The C subtype protease displayed lower Km values against two different substrates resulting in a higher (2.4-fold) catalytic efficiency than the B subtype protease. Indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, and nelfinavir inhibit the A and C subtype proteases with 2.5-7-fold and 2-4.5-fold weaker Kis than the B subtype. When all factors are taken into consideration it is found that the C subtype protease has the highest vitality (4-11 higher than the B subtype) whereas the A subtype protease exhibits values ranging between 1.5 and 5. These results point to a higher biochemical fitness of the A and C proteases in the presence of existing inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6062-6067
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 22 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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