Genetic and structural analysis of HIV-1 rev responsive element related to V38A and T18A enfuvirtide resistance mutations

Salvatore Dimonte, Fabio Mercurio, Valentina Svicher, Carlo Federico Perno, Francesca Ceccherini-Silberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: For the expression of late viral genes, HIV-1 efficiently exploits the nuclear export by using Rev viral protein, which specifically binds the RNA Rev Responsive Element (RRE). This region is contained within the gp120-gp41 encoding sequence. Enfuvirtide is the first approved HIV-1 fusion-inhibitor, and gp41 codons associated with primary enfuvirtide-resistance (amino-acids 36-45) are localized within the RRE structure. We previously found the co-presence of V38A+T18A resistance mutations in patients failing enfuvirtide. Methods: Collecting 476 and 135 HIV-1 B-subtype gp41 sequences from enfuvirtide-nave and enfuvirtide-treated patients, respectively, two mutations previously found associated with enfuvirtide treatment, T18A and V38A, were analyzed. Moreover, the RNA secondary structure was displayed by CONTRAfold-software and the gp41 evolutionary pathways by a mutagenetic tree. Results: By modeling the RRE structure, we show that the T18 and V38 codons are base pairing within the RRE-stem-IIA, an important domain involved in Rev binding. While a structural RRE impairment in the presence of V38A alone was found, a restoration of the original RRE structure occurred in co-presence of V38A+T18A. By mutagenetic tree analysis, a compensatory evolution confirming our hypothesis on the structural modification mechanism was observed. Conclusion: We show that enfuvirtide pressure may also affect specific RRE domains involved in Rev binding, thus requiring a compensatory evolution able to preserve the secondary structure of the RRE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-390
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • gp41
  • HIV
  • Mutagenetic tree
  • Mutations
  • Rev Responsive Element (RRE)
  • RNA
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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