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Oncogene. 1997 Jun 12;14(23):2785-92.

Functional interaction of the HTLV-1 transactivator Tax with activating transcription factor-4 (ATF4).

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0665, USA.


The Tax protein of the Human T-cell Leukemia Virus (HTLV) activates the expression of viral mRNA through a three 21 bp repeat enhancer located within the HTLV-1 LTR. Since Tax does not bind to the 21 bp DNA repeats directly, it has been speculated that Tax interacts with cellular protein(s) which mediate binding to the enhancer. We employed the yeast two hybrid system to identify host proteins that are potentially relevant to Tax transactivation. We identified a Tax binding protein encoded from a cDNA expression library derived from peripheral blood lymphocytes. The corresponding cDNA has sequence identity with a known transcription factor, activating factor-4 (ATF-4). ATF-4 also binds to GST-Tax fusion protein in vitro. Tax mutants that did not transactivate the HTLV-1 LTR also failed to bind ATF-4. The critical domain for Tax binding resides in a 85 amino acid stretch in the C-terminus of ATF-4, which contains the basic domain and leucine zipper. We further demonstrated that both full length and N-terminal truncated ATF-4 were able to enhance Tax transactivation. Thus, ATF-4 may act as an adapter between Tax and the TRE (Tax responsive element), and play an important role in Tax-mediated transactivation.

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