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J Virol. 2006 Aug;80(15):7459-68.

Versatile reporter systems show that transactivation by human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 Tax occurs independently of chromatin remodeling factor BRG1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.


Potent activation of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) gene expression is mediated by the virus-encoded transactivator protein Tax and three imperfect 21-bp repeats in the viral long terminal repeats. Each 21-bp repeat contains a cAMP-responsive-element core flanked by 5' G-rich and 3' C-rich sequences. Tax alone does not bind DNA. Rather, it interacts with basic domain-leucine zipper transcription factors CREB and ATF-1 to form ternary complexes with the 21-bp repeats. In the context of the ternary complexes, Tax contacts the G/C-rich sequences and recruits transcriptional coactivators CREB-binding protein (CBP)/p300 to effect potent transcriptional activation. Using an easily transduced and chromosomally integrated reporter system derived from a self-inactivating lentivirus vector, we showed in a BRG1- and BRM1-deficient adrenal carcinoma cell line, SW-13, that Tax- and 21-bp repeat-mediated transactivation does not require BRG1 or BRM1 and is not enhanced by BRG1. With a similar reporter system, we further demonstrated that Tax- and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced NF-kappaB activation occurs readily in SW-13 cells in the absence of BRG1 and BRM1. These results suggest that the assembly of stable multiprotein complexes containing Tax, CREB/ATF-1, and CBP/p300 on the 21-bp repeats is the principal mechanism employed by Tax to preclude nucleosome formation at the HTLV-1 enhancer/promoter. This most likely bypasses the need for BRG1-containing chromatin-remodeling complexes. Likewise, recruitment of CBP/p300 by NF-kappaB may be sufficient to disrupt histone-DNA interaction for the initiation of transcription.

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