Highly divergent lentiviral Tat proteins activate viral gene expression by a common mechanism.
ABSTRACT: The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Tat protein (hTat) activates transcription initiated at the viral long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter by a unique mechanism requiring recruitment of the human cyclin T1 (hCycT1) cofactor to the viral TAR RNA target element. While activation of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) gene expression by the EIAV Tat (eTat) protein appears similar in that the target element is a promoter proximal RNA, eTat shows little sequence homology to hTat, does not activate the HIV-1 LTR, and is not active in human cells that effectively support hTat function. To address whether eTat and hTat utilize similar or distinct mechanisms of action, we have cloned the equine homolog of hCycT1 (eCycT1) and examined whether it is required to mediate eTat function. Here, we report that expression of eCycT1 in human cells fully rescues eTat function and that eCycT1 and eTat form a protein complex that specifically binds to the EIAV, but not the HIV-1, TAR element. While hCycT1 is also shown to interact with eTat, the lack of eTat function in human cells is explained by the failure of the resultant protein complex to bind to EIAV TAR. Critical sequences in eCycT1 required to support eTat function are located very close to the amino terminus, i.e., distal to the HIV-1 Tat-TAR interaction motif previously identified in the hCycT1 protein. Together, these data provide a molecular explanation for the species tropism displayed by eTat and demonstrate that highly divergent lentiviral Tat proteins activate transcription from their cognate LTR promoters by essentially identical mechanisms.
Project description:The positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) is an essential regulator of viral gene expression during the life cycle of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Its cyclin T1 subunit forms a ternary complex with the viral transcriptional transactivator (Tat) protein and the transactivation response (TAR) RNA element thereby activating cyclin dependent kinase 9 (Cdk9), which stimulates transcription at the level of chain elongation. We report the structure of the cyclin box domain of human cyclin T1 at a resolution of 2.67 A. The structure was obtained by crystallographic analysis of a fusion protein composed of cyclin T1 linked to the transactivator protein Tat from equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV), which is functionally and structurally related to HIV-1 Tat. The conserved cyclin box domain of cyclin T1 exhibits structural features for interaction with physiological binding partners such as Cdk9. A recognition site for Cdk/Cyclin substrates is partly covered by a cyclin T-specific insert, suggesting specific interactions with regulatory factors. The previously identified Tat/TAR recognition motif (TRM) forms a C-terminal helix that is partly occluded in the cyclin box repeat interface, while cysteine 261 is accessible to form an intermolecular zinc finger with Tat. Residues of the TRM contribute to a positively charged groove that may directly attract RNA molecules. The EIAV Tat protein instead appeared undefined from the electron density map suggesting that it is highly disordered. Functional experiments confirmed the TAR binding properties of the fusion protein and suggested residues on the second cyclin box repeat to contribute to Tat stimulated transcription.
Project description:<label>BACKGROUND</label>Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Tat protein plays an essential role in HIV-1 gene transcription. Tat transactivates HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR)-directed gene expression through direct interactions with the transactivation-responsive region (TAR) element and other cis elements in the LTR. The TAR-independent Tat-mediated LTR transactivation is modulated by several host factors, but the mechanism is not fully understood.<label>RESULTS</label>Here, we report that Tat interacts with the Rel homology domain of RelB through its core region. Furthermore, RelB significantly increases Tat-mediated transcription of the HIV-1 LTR and viral gene expression, which is independent of the TAR. Both Tat and RelB are recruited to the HIV-1 promoter, of which RelB facilitates the recruitment of Tat to the viral LTR. The NF-?B elements are key to the accumulation of Tat and RelB on the LTR. Knockout of RelB reduces the accumulation of RNA polymerase II on the LTR, and decreases HIV-1 gene transcription. Together, our data suggest that RelB contributes to HIV-1 transactivation.<label>CONCLUSIONS</label>Our results demonstrate that RelB interacts with Tat and enhances TAR-independent activation of HIV-1 LTR promoter, which adds new insights into the multi-layered mechanisms of Tat in regulating the gene expression of HIV-1.
Project description:The equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) attenuated vaccine was developed by long-term passaging of a field-isolated virulent strain in cross-species hosts, followed by successive cultivation in cells in vitro To explore the molecular mechanism underlying the evolution of the EIAV attenuated vaccine, a systematic study focusing on long-terminal-repeat (LTR) variation in numerous virus strains ranging from virulent EIAV to attenuated EIAV was performed over time both in vitro and in vivo Two hypervariable regions were identified within the U3 region in the enhancer region (EHR) and the negative regulatory element (NRE) and within the R region in the transcription start site (TSS) and the Tat-activating region (TAR). Among these sites, variation in the U3 region resulted in the formation of additional transcription factor binding sites; this variation of the in vitro-adapted strains was consistent with the loss of pathogenicity. Notably, the same LTR variation pattern was observed both in vitro and in vivo Generally, the LTR variation in both the attenuated virus and the virulent strain fluctuated over time in vivo Interestingly, the attenuated-virus-specific LTR variation was also detected in horses infected with the virulent strain, supporting the hypothesis that the evolution of an attenuated virus might have involved branching from EIAV quasispecies. This hypothesis was verified by phylogenetic analysis. The present systematic study examining the molecular evolution of attenuated EIAV from EIAV quasispecies may provide an informative model reflecting the evolution of similar lentiviruses.IMPORTANCE The attenuated EIAV vaccine was the first lentiviral vaccine used to successfully control for equine infectious anemia in China. This vaccine provides an important reference for studying the relationship between EIAV gene variation and changes in biological characteristics. Importantly, the vaccine provides a model for the investigation of lentiviral quasispecies evolution. This study followed the "natural" development of the attenuated EIAV vaccine by use of a systematic analysis of LTR evolution in vitro and in vivo The results revealed that the increase in LTR variation with passaging was accompanied by a decrease in virulence, which indicated that LTR variability might parallel the attenuation of virulence. Interestingly, the attenuated-virus-specific LTR variation was also detected in virulent-strain-infected horses, a finding consistent with those of previous investigations of gp90 and S2 evolution. Therefore, we present a hypothesis that the evolution of the attenuated virus may involve branching from EIAV quasispecies present in vivo.
Project description:Jembrana disease virus (JDV) is a bovine lentivirus genetically similar to bovine immunodeficiency virus; it causes an acute and sometimes fatal disease in infected animals. This virus carries a very potent Tat that can strongly activate not only its own long terminal repeat (LTR) but also the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) LTR. In contrast, HIV Tat cannot reciprocally activate the JDV LTR (H. Chen, G. E. Wilcox, G. Kertayadnya, and C. Wood, J. Virol. 73:658-666, 1999). This indicates that in transactivation JDV Tat may utilize a mechanism similar to but not the same as that of the HIV Tat. To further study the similarity of JDV and HIV tat in transactivation, we first tested the responses of a series of HIV LTR mutants to the JDV Tat. Cross-transactivation of HIV LTR by JDV Tat was impaired by mutations that disrupted the HIV type 1 transactivation response element (TAR) RNA stem-loop structure. Our results demonstrated that JDV Tat, like HIV Tat, transactivated the HIV LTR at least partially in a TAR-dependent manner. However, the sequence in the loop region of TAR was not as critical for the function of JDV Tat as it was for HIV Tat. The competitive inhibition of Tat-induced transactivation by the truncated JDV or HIV Tat, which consisted only of the activation domain, suggested that similar cellular factors were involved in both JDV and HIV Tat-induced transactivation. Based on the one-round transfection assay with HIV tat mutant proviruses, the cotransfected JDV tat plasmid can functionally complement the HIV tat defect. To further characterize the effect of JDV Tat on HIV, a stable chimeric HIV carrying the JDV tat gene was generated. This chimeric HIV replicated in a T-cell line, C8166, and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, which suggested that JDV Tat can functionally substitute for HIV Tat. Further characterization of this chimeric virus will help to elucidate how JDV Tat functions and to explain the differences between HIV and JDV Tat transactivation.
Project description:The emergence of drug-resistant variants has posed a significant setback against effective antiviral treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. The choice of a nonmutable region of the viral genome such as the conserved transactivation response element (TAR element) in the 5' long terminal repeat (LTR) may potentially be an effective target for drug development. We have earlier demonstrated that a polyamide nucleotide analog (PNA) targeted to the TAR hairpin element, when transfected into cells, can effectively inhibit Tat-mediated transactivation of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) LTR (T. Mayhood et al., Biochemistry 39:11532-11539, 2000). Here we show that this anti-TAR PNA (PNA(TAR)), upon conjugation with a membrane-permeating peptide vector (transportan) retained its affinity for TAR in vitro similar to the unconjugated analog. The conjugate was efficiently internalized into the cells when added to the culture medium. Examination of the functional efficacy of the PNA(TAR)-transportan conjugate in cell culture using luciferase reporter gene constructs resulted in a significant inhibition of Tat-mediated transactivation of HIV-1 LTR. Furthermore, PNA(TAR)-transportan conjugate substantially inhibited HIV-1 production in chronically HIV-1-infected H9 cells. The mechanism of this inhibition appeared to be regulated at the level of transcription. These results demonstrate the efficacy of PNA(TAR)-transportan as a potential anti-HIV agent.
Project description:Tat is a critical regulatory factor in HIV-1 gene expression. It mediates the transactivation of transcription from the HIV-1 LTR by binding to the transactivation response (TAR) element in a complex with cyclin T1. Because of its critical and early role in HIV gene expression, Tat and its interaction with the TAR element constitute important therapeutic targets for the treatment of HIV-1 infection. Based on the known nucleolar localization properties of Tat, we constructed a chimeric small nucleolar RNA-TAR decoy that localizes to the nucleoli of human cells and colocalizes in the nucleolus with a Tat-enhanced GFP fusion protein. When the chimeric RNA was stably expressed in human T lymphoblastoid CEM cells it potently inhibited HIV-1 replication. These results demonstrate that the nucleolar trafficking of Tat is critical for HIV-1 replication and suggests a role for the nucleolus in HIV-1 viral replication.
Project description:Transcription from the HIV-1 LTR promoter efficiently initiates but rapidly terminates because of a non-processive form of RNA polymerase II. This premature termination is overcome by assembly of an HIV-1 TAT/P-TEFb complex at the transactivation response region (TAR), a structured RNA element encoded by the first 59 nt of HIV-1 mRNA. Here we have identified a conserved DNA-binding element for the cellular transcription factor, ZASC1, in the HIV-1 core promoter immediately upstream of TAR. We show that ZASC1 interacts with TAT and P-TEFb, co-operating with TAT to regulate HIV-1 gene expression, and promoting HIV-1 transcriptional elongation. The importance of ZASC1 to HIV-1 transcription elongation was confirmed through mutagenesis of the ZASC1 binding sites in the LTR promoter, shRNAs targeting ZASC1 and expression of dominant negative ZASC1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that ZASC1 recruits Tat and P-TEFb to the HIV-1 core promoter in a TAR-independent manner. Thus, we have identified ZASC1 as novel regulator of HIV-1 gene expression that functions through the DNA-dependent, RNA-independent recruitment of TAT/P-TEFb to the HIV-1 promoter.
Project description:Jembrana disease virus (JDV) is a newly identified bovine lentivirus that is closely related to the bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV). JDV contains a tat gene, encoded by two exons, which has potent transactivation activity. Cotransfection of the JDV tat expression plasmid with the JDV promoter chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) construct pJDV-U3R resulted in a substantial increase in the level of CAT mRNA transcribed from the JDV long terminal repeat (LTR) and a dramatic increase in the CAT protein level. Deletion analysis of the LTR sequences showed that sequences spanning nucleotides -68 to +53, including the TATA box and the predicted first stem-loop structure of the predicted Tat response element (TAR), were required for efficient transactivation. The results, derived from site-directed mutagenesis experiments, suggested that the base pairing in the stem of the first stem-loop structure in the TAR region was important for JDV Tat-mediated transactivation; in contrast, nucleotide substitutions in the loop region of JDV TAR had less effect. For the JDV LTR, upstream sequences, from nucleotide -196 and beyond, as well as the predicted secondary structures in the R region, may have a negative effect on basal JDV promoter activity. Deletion of these regions resulted in a four- to fivefold increase in basal expression. The JDV Tat is also a potent transactivator of other animal and primate lentivirus promoters. It transactivated BIV and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) LTRs to levels similar to those with their homologous Tat proteins. In contrast, HIV-1 Tat has minimal effects on JDV LTR expression, whereas BIV Tat moderately transactivated the JDV LTR. Our study suggests that JDV may use a mechanism of transactivation similar but not identical to those of other animal and primate lentiviruses.
Project description:The regulation of HIV expression is controlled by the activity of the Long Terminal Repeat (LTR). Trans-activation by the virally encoded Tat protein is one of the main mechanisms of LTR activation. Tat binds to its target, TAR RNA, and cellular proteins that bind the LTR, Tat, or TAR RNA are important components of the trans-activation process. We will review the factors that have been characterized for a possible involvement in this mechanism. Whereas LTR binding proteins consist of Sp1 and TBP, a large number of factors that bind TAR RNA have been isolated. We have previously cloned two of them by RNA probe recognition: TRBP and La. We have shown that the in vitro and in vivo binding of TRBP to TAR RNA correlates with a constant expression of the protein during HIV-1 infection. Several proteins that interact with Tat have mainly positive, but some negative, effects on trans-activation. Genetic studies have defined that human chromosome 12 encodes a protein that will allow trans-activation in rodent cells. The binding and the functional data about these proteins suggest sequential steps for the Tat trans-activation mechanism. Each of these intracellular molecular events could be the target for molecular intervention against the virus.
Project description:The RNA response element TAR plays a critical role in HIV replication by providing a binding site for the recruitment of the viral transactivator protein Tat. Using a structure-guided approach, we have developed a series of conformationally-constrained cyclic peptides that act as structural mimics of the Tat RNA binding region and block Tat-TAR interactions at nanomolar concentrations in vitro. Here we show that these compounds block Tat-dependent transcription in cell-free systems and in cell-based reporter assays. The compounds are also cell permeable, have low toxicity, and inhibit replication of diverse HIV-1 strains, including both CXCR4-tropic and CCR5-tropic primary HIV-1 isolates of the divergent subtypes A, B, C, D and CRF01_AE. In human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, the cyclic peptidomimetic L50 exhibited an IC(50) ?250 nM. Surprisingly, inhibition of LTR-driven HIV-1 transcription could not account for the full antiviral activity. Timed drug-addition experiments revealed that L-50 has a bi-phasic inhibition curve with the first phase occurring after HIV-1 entry into the host cell and during the initiation of HIV-1 reverse transcription. The second phase coincides with inhibition of HIV-1 transcription. Reconstituted reverse transcription assays confirm that HIV-1 (-) strand strong stop DNA synthesis is blocked by L50-TAR RNA interactions in-vitro. These findings are consistent with genetic evidence that TAR plays critical roles both during reverse transcription and during HIV gene expression. Our results suggest that antiviral drugs targeting TAR RNA might be highly effective due to a dual inhibitory mechanism.