Conversation 11: No. 1
Volume: Conversation 11
Issue Number 1
Relating the Structure of HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptaseto Its Processing Step
By treating an enzyme as a coarse-grained uniform block of material, utilizing only the a-Carbon positions, the normal modes of motion can be obtained. For reverse transcriptase the slower of these motions are suggestive of being involved in the processing step, where the RNA or DNA strand is copied onto a new DNA strand at a polymerase site, and the RNA strand is subsequently cut up at the distant Ribonuclease H site. The slowest mode of motion involves hinge bending about a site midway between the polymerase and Ribonuclease H sites, suggesting that it can push or pull the RNA strand between these two sites. Pulling the nucleic acid strand would require tight binding to the RNase H site. The next slowest mode involves a hinge that opens and closes the protein like a clamp, which could facilitate the release of the nucleic acids for their step-wise progression. The third mode could rotate the substrate. An overall description of the step-wise processing step would involve close coordination among these steps. Results suggest that the smaller p51 subunit serves only as ballast to support the various modes of motion involving the different parts of the p66 subunit.
R. L. Jernigan1
1Molecular Structure Section
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