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EMBO J. 1999 Jul 1;18(13):3688-701.

A novel RNA polymerase II-containing complex potentiates Tat-enhanced HIV-1 transcription.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


The HIV-1-encoded Tat protein controls transcription elongation by increasing processivity of RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Here, we have identified a Tat stimulatory activity (Tat-SF) as a novel RNA Pol II-containing complex. Remarkably, Tat-SF contains the previously identified Tat cofactors Tat-SF1, P-TEFb and hSPT5/Tat-CT1, in addition to RNA Pol II and other unidentified polypeptides, but none of the SRB/MED proteins or other factors found associated with the previously described RNA Pol II holoenzyme complex. Tat-SF supports basal, Sp1-activated and Tat-activated transcription in a reconstituted system, and a Tat-SF-derived fraction lacking RNA Pol II can complement non-responsive RNA Pol II complexes for Tat-enhanced HIV-1 transcription, indicating that Tat-SF contains factors that are critical for Tat function. Both Tat-SF and RNA Pol II holoenzyme are present in HeLa nuclear extracts and each can be recruited to the HIV-1 promoter. Our results indicate that Tat-SF is a Tat cofactor-containing RNA Pol II complex whose recruitment to the promoter provides elongation factors important for Tat-enhanced HIV-1 transcription following TAR RNA synthesis.

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