HIV-1 3′-Polypurine Tract Mutations Confer Dolutegravir Resistance by Switching to an Integration-Independent Replication Mechanism via 1-LTR Circles

by | May 1, 2023 | Publications

J Virol. 2023 May 1:e0036123. doi: 10.1128/jvi.00361-23. Online ahead of print.


Several recent studies indicate that mutations in the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) 3’polypurine tract (3’PPT) motif can reduce sensitivity to the integrase inhibitor dolutegravir (DTG). Using an in vivo systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) approach, we discovered that multiple different mutations in this viral RNA element can confer DTG resistance, suggesting that the inactivation of this critical reverse transcription element causes resistance. An analysis of the viral DNA products formed upon infection by these 3’PPT mutants revealed that they replicate without integration into the host cell genome, concomitant with an increased production of 1-LTR circles. As the replication of these virus variants is activated by the human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein, a factor that reverses epigenetic silencing of episomal HIV DNA, these data indicate that the 3’PPT-mutated viruses escape from the integrase inhibitor DTG by switching to an integration-independent replication mechanism. IMPORTANCE The integrase inhibitor DTG is a potent inhibitor of HIV replication and is currently recommended in drug regimens for people living with HIV. Whereas HIV normally escapes from antiviral drugs by the acquisition of specific mutations in the gene that encodes the targeted enzyme, mutational inactivation of the viral 3’PPT sequence, an RNA element that has a crucial role in the viral reverse transcription process, was found to allow HIV replication in the presence of DTG in cell culture experiments. While the integration of the viral DNA into the cellular genome is considered one of the hallmarks of retroviruses, including HIV, 3’PPT inactivation caused integration-independent replication, which can explain the reduced DTG sensitivity. Whether this exotic escape route can also contribute to viral escape in HIV-infected persons remains to be determined, but our results indicate that screening for 3’PPT mutations in patients that fail on DTG therapy should be considered.

PMID:37125907 | DOI:10.1128/jvi.00361-23

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