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EMBO J. 1990 Aug;9(8):2537-42.

Multiple cDNA clones encoding nuclear proteins that bind to the tax-dependent enhancer of HTLV-1: all contain a leucine zipper structure and basic amino acid domain.

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  • 1Department of Viral Oncology, Cancer Institute, Tokyo, Japan.


A trans-activator protein, p40tax, of human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) activates its own promoter and cellular promoters of IL-2, IL-2 receptor alpha and GM-CSF genes. We isolated three cDNA clones encoding cellular proteins that bind to the p40tax-dependent enhancer of HTLV-1 by screening a lambda gt11 cDNA library of an HTLV-1 infected cell line. All three proteins, TREB5, TREB7 and TREB36, contained a leucine zipper structure and basic amino acid domain, which are conserved in FOS, JUN and CREB, and also had multiple potential phosphorylation sites. The proteins expressed in Escherichia coli bound to the p40tax-dependent enhancer of the 21 bp sequence, but not to an inactive mutant carrying a mutation in the CRE region. In DNase I footprint analysis, all three proteins protected the 21 bp sequences in the LTR; however, the patterns were not identical to each other. TREB7 and TREB36 protected all three repeats of the 21 bp, but TREB5 protected only the second repeat. TREB7 and TREB36 protected the 5' and middle portions of the 21 bp which are essential for p40tax-mediated trans-activation, whereas TREB5 and CREB1 protected a narrower part of the middle region of the second 21 bp repeat containing the CRE consensus sequence. These structural features and DNA binding properties suggest that TREB proteins are members of a CREB protein family and that some of them (i.e., TREB7 and TREB36) may be involved in p40tax-mediated trans-activation.

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