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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 1;8(7):e68665. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068665. Print 2013.

Human DDX3 interacts with the HIV-1 Tat protein to facilitate viral mRNA translation.

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Department of Physiology, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan.


Nuclear export and translation of intron-containing viral mRNAs are required for HIV-1 gene expression and replication. In this report, we provide evidence to show that DDX3 regulates the translation of HIV-1 mRNAs. We found that knockdown of DDX3 expression effectively inhibited HIV-1 production. Translation of HIV-1 early regulatory proteins, Tat and rev, was impaired in DDX3-depleted cells. All HIV-1 transcripts share a highly structured 5' untranslated region (UTR) with inhibitory elements on translation of viral mRNAs, yet DDX3 promoted translation of reporter mRNAs containing the HIV-1 5' UTR, especially with the transactivation response (TAR) hairpin. Interestingly, DDX3 directly interacts with HIV-1 Tat, a well-characterized transcriptional activator bound to the TAR hairpin. HIV-1 Tat is partially targeted to cytoplasmic stress granules upon DDX3 overexpression or cell stress conditions, suggesting a potential role of Tat/DDX3 complex in translation. We further demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat remains associated with translating mRNAs and facilitates translation of mRNAs containing the HIV-1 5' UTR. Taken together, these findings indicate that DDX3 is recruited to the TAR hairpin by interaction with viral Tat to facilitate HIV-1 mRNA translation.

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