The APOBEC3 family of deoxycytidine deaminases has the ability to restrict HIV-1 through deamination-dependent and deamination-independent mechanisms. Although the generation of mutations through deamination of cytosine to uracil in single-stranded HIV-1 (−) DNA is the dominant mechanism of restriction, the deaminase-independent mechanism additionally contributes. Previous observations indicate that APOBEC3 enzymes competitively bind the RNA template or reverse transcriptase (RT) and act as a roadblock to DNA polymerization. Here we studied how the deamination-independent inhibition of HIV-1 RT by APOBEC3C S188I, APOBEC3F, APOBEC3G, and APOBEC3H affected RT template switching. We found that APOBEC3F could promote template switching of RT, and this was dependent on the high affinity with which it bound nucleic acids, suggesting than an APOBEC3 “road-block” can force template switching. Our data demonstrate that the deamination-independent functions of APOBEC3 enzymes extend beyond only disrupting RT DNA polymerization. Since alterations to the RT template switching frequency can result in insertions or deletions, our data support a model in which APOBEC3 enzymes use multiple mechanisms to increase the probability of generating a mutated and nonfunctional virus in addition to cytosine deamination.
Adolph, M. B., Ara, A., & Chelico, L. (2019). APOBEC3 Host Restriction Factors of HIV-1 Can Change the Template Switching Frequency of Reverse Transcriptase. Journal of Molecular Biology, 431(7), 1339–1352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2019.02.015