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J Virol. 1999 Jul;73(7):5448-58.

Human and rodent transcription elongation factor P-TEFb: interactions with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 tat and carboxy-terminal domain substrate.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transcriptional regulator Tat increases the efficiency of elongation, and complexes containing the cellular kinase CDK9 have been implicated in this process. CDK9 is part of the Tat-associated kinase TAK and of the elongation factor P-TEFb (positive transcription elongation factor-b), which consists minimally of CDK9 and cyclin T. TAK and P-TEFb are both able to phosphorylate the carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II, but their relationships to one another and to the stimulation of elongation by Tat are not well characterized. Here we demonstrate that human cyclin T1 (but not cyclin T2) interacts with the activation domain of Tat and is a component of TAK as well as of P-TEFb. Rodent (mouse and Chinese hamster) cyclin T1 is defective in Tat binding and transactivation, but hamster CDK9 interacts with human cyclin T1 to give active TAK in hybrid cells containing human chromosome 12. Although TAK is phosphorylated on both serine and threonine residues, it specifically phosphorylates serine 5 in the CTD heptamer. TAK is found in the nuclear and cytoplasmic fractions of human cells as a large complex (approximately 950 kDa). Magnesium or zinc ions are required for the association of Tat with the kinase. We suggest a model in which Tat first interacts with P-TEFb to form the TAK complex that engages with TAR RNA and the elongating transcription complex, resulting in hyperphosphorylation of the CTD on serine 5 residues.

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