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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 7;111(1):E15-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1318503111. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

AFF1 is a ubiquitous P-TEFb partner to enable Tat extraction of P-TEFb from 7SK snRNP and formation of SECs for HIV transactivation.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Innovation Center for Cell Biology, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China.


The positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) stimulates RNA polymerase elongation by inducing the transition of promoter proximally paused polymerase II into a productively elongating state. P-TEFb itself is regulated by reversible association with various transcription factors/cofactors to form several multisubunit complexes [e.g., the 7SK small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle (7SK snRNP), the super elongation complexes (SECs), and the bromodomain protein 4 (Brd4)-P-TEFb complex] that constitute a P-TEFb network controlling cellular and HIV transcription. These complexes have been thought to share no components other than the core P-TEFb subunits cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) and cyclin T (CycT, T1, T2a, and T2b). Here we show that the AF4/FMR2 family member 1 (AFF1) is bound to CDK9-CycT and is present in all major P-TEFb complexes and that the tripartite CDK9-CycT-AFF1 complex is transferred as a single unit within the P-TEFb network. By increasing the affinity of the HIV-encoded transactivating (Tat) protein for CycT1, AFF1 facilitates Tat's extraction of P-TEFb from 7SK snRNP and the formation of Tat-SECs for HIV transcription. Our data identify AFF1 as a ubiquitous P-TEFb partner and demonstrate that full Tat transactivation requires the complete SEC.

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