HIV-1 integrase blocks infection of bacteria by single-stranded DNA and RNA bacteriophages

Ruth Levitz, Karl Drlica, Ellen Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Expression of human immunodeficiency virus-1 integrase in Escherichia coli, at levels that had no effect on bacterial cell growth, blocked plaque formation by bacteriophages having single-stranded genomic DNA (M13) or RNA (R17, Qβ, PRR1). Plaque formation by phages having double-stranded genomic DNA (T4, PR4) was unaffected. Integrase also inhibited infection by the phagemid M13KO7, but it had no effect on production of phage once infection by M13KO7 was established. This result indicated that integrase affects an early stage in infection. Integrase also inhibited phage production following transfection by either single-stranded or double-stranded (replicative form) M13 DNA, it blocked M13 DNA replication, as assayed by incorporation of radioactive nucleotides into DNA, and it failed to affect bacterial pilus function. These data suggest that integrase interacts in vivo with phage nucleic acid, a conclusion supported by studies in which integrase was shown to have a DNA-binding activity in its C-terminal portion. This portion of integrase was both necessary and sufficient for interference of plaque formation by M13 in the present study. Expression of the N-terminal portion of integrase at the same level as intact integrase had little effect on phage growth, indicating that expression of foreign protein in general was not responsible for the inhibitory effect. The simple bacteriophage assay described is potentially useful for identifying integrase mutants that lack single-stranded DNA binding activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-425
Number of pages9
JournalMgg Molecular & General Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


  • HIV-1
  • M13 replication
  • Retroviral integrase
  • Single-stranded DNA binding


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