The low fidelity of HIV replication facilitates immune and drug escape. Some reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitor drug-resistance mutations increase RT fidelity in biochemical assays but their effect during viral replication is unclear. We investigated the effect of RT mutations K65R, Q151N and V148I on SIV replication and fidelity in vitro, along with SIV replication in pigtailed macaques. SIVmac239-K65R and SIVmac239-V148I viruses had reduced replication capacity compared to wild-type SIVmac239. Direct virus competition assays demonstrated a rank order of wild-type>K65R>V148I mutants in terms of viral fitness. In single round in vitro-replication assays, SIVmac239-K65R demonstrated significantly higher fidelity than wild-type, and rapidly reverted to wild-type following infection of macaques. In contrast, SIVmac239-Q151N was replication incompetent in vitro and in pigtailed macaques. Thus, we showed that RT mutants, and specifically the common K65R drug-resistance mutation, had impaired replication capacity and higher fidelity. These results have implications for the pathogenesis of drug-resistant HIV.
- human immunodeficiency virus
- simian immunodeficiency virus
- reverse transcriptase
- nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor
- drug resistance