The majority of HIV-1 infections around the world result from non-B clade HIV-1 strains. The CRF01_AE (AE) strain is seen principally in Southeast Asia. AE protease differs by approximately 10% in amino acid sequence from clade B protease and carries several naturally occurring polymorphisms that are associated with drug resistance in clade B. AE protease has been observed to develop resistance through a nonactive-site N88S mutation in response to nelfinavir (NFV) therapy, whereas clade B protease develops both the active-site mutation D30N and the nonactive-site mutation N88D. Structural and biochemical studies were carried out with wild-type and NFV-resistant clade B and AE protease variants. The relationship between clade-specific sequence variations and pathways to inhibitor resistance was also assessed. AE protease has a lower catalytic turnover rate than clade B protease, and it also has weaker affinity for both NFV and darunavir (DRV). This weaker affinity may lead to the nonactive-site N88S variant in AE, which exhibits significantly decreased affinity for both NFV and DRV. The D30N/N88D mutations in clade B resulted in a significant loss of affinity for NFV and, to a lesser extent, for DRV. A comparison of crystal structures of AE protease shows significant structural rearrangement in the flap hinge region compared with those of clade B protease and suggests insights into the alternative pathways to NFV resistance. In combination, our studies show that sequence polymorphisms within clades can alter protease activity and inhibitor binding and are capable of altering the pathway to inhibitor resistance.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rajintha_bandaranayake/1/