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FASEB J. 1993 Jan;7(1):214-22.

HIV-1 TAR RNA-binding proteins control TAT activation of translation in Xenopus oocytes.

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Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University, England.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) gene expression is activated by the viral TAT protein that interacts with an RNA sequence, TAR, located at the 5' end of all viral mRNAs. TAT functions primarily as a transcriptional activator in mammalian cells. However, in Xenopus oocytes TAT functions primarily as a translational activator. TAR is an RNA structure comprising a partially base-paired stem, a tripyrimidine bulge in the upper stem, and an unpaired six-nucleotide loop. In vitro, TAT binds directly to the bulge with no requirement for the loop. In vivo, however, mutations in the loop abolish TAT activation of transcription and translation, implying a requirement for TAR-binding cellular factors. We now provide genetic evidence for the presence of two TAR-specific cellular factors in Xenopus oocytes. These factors display independent and mutually exclusive interactions with either the loop or the bulge region of TAR. Furthermore, by using in vivo RNA competition assays we show that the cellular factors regulate the accessibility of the TAT binding site. The fact that Xenopus oocytes contain factors that specifically interact with a human viral RNA sequence might indicate that the TAT/TAR interaction is subverting a conserved pathway in the cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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