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EMBO J. 1995 Jan 16;14(2):321-8.

Novel mechanism and factor for regulation by HIV-1 Tat.

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Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


Tat regulation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transcription is unique because of its specificity for an RNA target, TAR, and its ability to increase the efficiency of elongation by polymerase. A reconstituted reaction that is Tat-specific and TAR-dependent for activation of HIV transcription has been used to identify and partially purify a cellular activity that is required for trans-activation by Tat, but not by other activators. In the reaction, Tat stimulates the efficiency of elongation by polymerase, whereas Sp1 and other DNA sequence-specific transcription factors activate the rate of initiation. Furthermore, while TATA binding protein (TBP)-associated factors (TAFs) in the TFIID complex are required for activation by transcription factors, they are dispensable for Tat function. Thus, Tat acts through a novel mechanism, which is mediated by a specific host cellular factor, to stimulate HIV-1 gene expression.

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