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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Apr;82(8):2277-81.

Functional activation of the long terminal repeat of human T-cell leukemia virus type I by a trans-acting factor.


Promoter function for gene expression of the long terminal repeat (LTR) of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) was studied by constructing plasmids containing the LTR sequence. The gene encoding chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CATase) was linked to an HTLV-I LTR sequence (pLTR-CAT) by replacing the simian virus 40 promoter in plasmid pSV2-CAT with the LTR sequence. The transient CATase activities of cells transfected with the plasmids were compared. The results are summarized as follows: The HTLV LTR was active even in an epithelial cell line, with efficiency similar to that of the simian virus 40 promoter. pLTR-CAT expressed high CATase activity, 40-200 times that expressed by pSV2-CAT, in HTLV-I-infected T-cell lines, such as the human cell lines MT-2 and HUT-102, or in HTLV-I-infected rat cell lines. This enhanced activity of the LTR seems to be associated with HTLV gene expression, since only low activity of pLTR-CAT was observed in the HTLV-infected cell line MT-1, in which only a small percent of cells express viral antigens. In HTLV-infected rat cell lines, the pX-encoded protein p40x was the only viral protein detected. Thus, we suggest that p40x is the factor associated directly or indirectly with the enhanced activity of the LTR.

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