Nina Rødtness Poulsen:
Human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) protease (PR) is responsible for cleaving ten different sites in the viral Gag and Gag-pol polyproteins, thereby releasing the structural proteins and enzymes necessary for the maturation and infectivity of the HIV-1 virus. The vital role of HIV-1 PR in the virus life cycle has made it a major target for drug development and active site competitive inhibitors have been successful in the battle against HIV. Unfortunately, the massive drug pressure along with high-level replication and lack of proofreading by the viral reverse transcriptase have resulted in multi-drug-resistant PRs. Computational analysis of a vast number of inhibitor-resistant HIV-1 PR variants can broaden the knowledge of how and why the mutations arise, which would be a great advantage in the design on resistance-evading inhibitors.
Here we present a diverse system to select for catalytically active HIV-1 PR in the presence of inhibitor. The system is based on the protein AraC, which regulates transcription of the araA, araB and araD genes necessary for arabinose catabolism in Escherichia coli, and its effectiveness was demonstrated by the isolation of both known and unknown inhibitor-resistant HIV-1 PR variants.