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EMBO J. 1990 Apr;9(4):1157-64.

Inactivation of the HIV LTR by DNA CpG methylation: evidence for a role in latency.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine Oncology Center, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Infection of cells by HIV can result in a period of quiescence or latency which may be obviated by treatment with inducing agents such as 5-azacytidine. Evidence from these experiments demonstrate the existence of two CpG sites in the HIV LTR which can silence transcription of both reporter genes (CAT) and infectious proviral DNA when enzymatically methylated. This transcriptional block was consistently overcome by the presence of the trans-activator tat without significant demethylation of the HIV LTR. These results suggest that DNA hypermethylation of the HIV LTR may change the binding characteristics between LTR sequences and cellular proteins, thereby suppressing HIV LTR transcription and modulating viral expression.

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