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EMBO J. 1986 Mar;5(3):561-5.

Direct evidence that p40x of human T-cell leukemia virus type I is a trans-acting transcriptional activator.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type I has a unique sequence, pX, between the env gene and the 3'LTR (long terminal repeat). This sequence codes for p40x, which was proposed to trans-activate transcription from the LTR. Recently, we identified novel pX proteins coded by frame III, which mostly overlaps frame IV (x-lor, coding for p40x), in a region also overlapped by frame II. To determine which product is responsible for the trans-acting function, we constructed an active provirus clone, pMTPX, that contained a genomic fragment of the env, pX and 3'LTR, and introduced site-directed mutations into the active site. The effects of various deletions and point mutations that distinguished each of the overlapping open reading frames (ORFs), II, III and IV, on trans-activation of pLTR-CAT were treated by co-transfection assays. The results showed that only mutations which affected p40x expression resulted in loss of activity for transcriptional activation. These findings clearly indicate that p40x coded by frame IV is responsible for the transcriptional activation of the LTR. This conclusion was confirmed by studies on expression of cDNA of pX mRNA.

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