Comparison of the substrate specificity of the human T-cell leukemia virus and human immunodeficiency virus proteinases

J. Tozser, G. Zahuczky, P. Bagossi, J. M. Louis, T. D. Copeland, S. Oroszlan, R. W. Harrison, I. T. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)


Human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-1) is associated with a number of human diseases. Based on the therapeutic success of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) PR inhibitors, the proteinase (PR) of HTLV-1 is a potential target for chemotherapy. To facilitate the design of potent inhibitors, the subsite specificity of HTLV-1 PR was characterized and compared to that of HIV-1 PR. Two sets of substrates were used that contained single amino-acid substitutions in peptides representing naturally occurring cleavage sites in HIV-1 and HTLV-1. The original HIV-1 matrix/capsid cleavage site substrate and most of its substituted peptides were not hydrolyzed by the HTLV-1 enzyme, except for those with hydrophobic residues at the P4 and P2 positions. On the other hand, most of the peptides representing the HTLV-1 capsid/nucleocapsid cleavage site were substrates of both enzymes. A large difference in the specificity of HTLV-1 and HIV-1 proteinases was demonstrated by kinetic measurements, particularly with regard to the S4 and S2 subsites, whereas the S1 subsite appeared to be more conserved. A molecular model of the HTLV-1 PR in complex with this substrate was built, based on the crystal structure of the S9 mutant of Rous sarcoma virus PR, in order to understand the molecular basis of the enzyme specificity. Based on the kinetics of shortened analogs of the HTLV-1 substrate and on analysis of the modeled complex of HTLV-1 PR with substrate, the substrate binding site of the HTLV-1 PR appeared to be more extended than that of HIV-1 PR. Kinetic results also suggested that the cleavage site between the capsid and nucleocapsid protein of HTLV-1 is evolutionarily optimized for rapid hydrolysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6287-6295
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000



  • HIV-1 proteinase
  • HTLV-1 proteinase
  • Molecular modeling
  • Oligopeptide substrates
  • Substrate specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

Cite this