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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Jun;16(6):3156-68.

Complex formation between CREB and Tax enhances the binding affinity of CREB for the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 21-base-pair repeats.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-8594, USA.


The regulation of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) gene expression is dependent on three cis-acting elements, known as the 21-bp repeats, in the long terminal repeat. Each of the 21-bp repeats contains a nonpalindromic cyclic AMP response element (CRE) sequence which is capable of binding members of the ATF/CREB family of transcription factors. The HTLV-1 transactivator protein Tax is able to markedly stimulate the in vitro binding of CREB to the CRE sites present in each of the 21-bp repeats but not to CRE sites present in cellular promoters. The ability to Tax to stimulate CREB binding to different CRE sites correlates with the ability of Tax to activate gene expression from these sites. We wished to determine how sequence differences between the somatostatin CRE and the 21-bp repeat were involved in this different response to Tax. Scatchard analysis indicated that CREB bound to the somatostatin CRE with a single class of high-affinity binding while CREB bound to the 21-bp repeats with a biphasic binding pattern, indicating the presence of both low- and high-affinity binding. Tax increased the affinity of CREB binding but not that of another ATF/CREB protein, CREB2, to the 21-bp repeat. However, Tax did not increase affinity of binding of CREB to the somatostatin CRE. To determine the mechanism by which Tax increased dCREB binding affinity, immobilized oligonucleotides corresponding to either the 21-bp repeat or the somatostatin CRE were used to demonstrate that Tax formed a highly specific complex with CREB on the 21-bp repeat but not on the somatostatin CRE. These results indicate that formation of a complex between Tax and CREB results in specific high-affinity binding of this ternary complex to the HTLV-1 21 bp repeats.

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