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J Biol Chem. 1996 Sep 20;271(38):23572-6.

Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor, a transcriptional activator of HIV-1 gene expression in human brain cells.

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Unité 338 INSERM, 5, rue Blaise Pascal, 67084 Strasbourg, France.


Viral infection of the central nervous system by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 leads to a wide range of neuropathological disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms governing transcription of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 genome in brain remain unclear. We have recently established that in brain cells, proteins belonging to the steroid/thyroid/retinoic acid receptor family bind to the -352 to -320 region of the long terminal repeat (LTR). Here, by supershift experiments, we have identified chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor (COUP-TF), an orphan member of this nuclear receptor family, as one of the major proteins interacting with this LTR site. Cotransfection studies revealed that COUP-TF is able to dramatically activate LTR-directed gene transcription in human oligodendroglioma but not in astrocytoma cells. This activation occurs through two mechanisms, depending on the LTR sequence. Moreover, in neuronal cells COUP-TF and dopamine, a catecholamine neurotransmitter, enhance LTR-directed transcription by acting on the proximal LTR region. These results reveal the importance of COUP-TF and the dopamine signaling pathway as activators of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gene expression in brain.

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