D'Aquila Richard T.; Summers, William C.Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 1989 Article: PDF Only Free Abstract The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT)/ribonuclease H has been expressed to high levels in Escherichia coli from a recombinant plasmid constructed using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for in vitro mutagenesis. Translational initiation and termination codons were introduced by the PCR at points corresponding to sites of cleavage of the RT from the gag-pol precursor polyprotein by the HIV-1 protease; the HIV-1 protease is not expressed from this construct. Most of the RT coding sequences derived from PCR were exchanged for a DNA fragment cloned by standard methods to minimize the possibility that an unwanted mutation was introduced during the in vitro amplification. The RT is expressed in bacteria from this plasmid as 66 and 51 kDa proteins, has both RNA-dependent DNA polymerase and ribonuclease H (RNase H) activities, and is indistinguishable from native HIV-1 RT in electrophoretic mobility and immunoreactivity. Peptide sequencing of the amino terminus of the HIV-1 RT purified from bacterial lysates is also presented. A novel activity gel assay was used to confirm that only the 66 kd protein catalyzes the RNase H reaction; this assay will simplify analysis of this catalytic activity. This HIV-1 RT expression plasmid is of interest because of the high level of expression in bacteria and the demonstrated RNase H activity of the enzyme. This plasmid will be distributed for research purposes through the NIH AIDS Repository and will facilitate enzymologic, structural, and immunologic evaluation of reverse transcription and its chemotherapeutic inhibition. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.