The sequence and structure of the 3' arm of the first stem-loop of the human immunodeficiency virus type 2 trans-activation responsive region mediate Tat-2 transactivation.

Journal of virology

PubMedID: 9311903

Browning C, Hilfinger JM, Rainier S, Lin V, Hedderwick S, Smith M, Markovitz DM. The sequence and structure of the 3' arm of the first stem-loop of the human immunodeficiency virus type 2 trans-activation responsive region mediate Tat-2 transactivation. J Virol. 1997;71(10):8048-55.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) causes AIDS, but generally after a much longer asymptomatic period than that which follows infection with HIV-1. At the molecular level, HIV-2 is much more closely related to the simian immunodeficiency viruses than to HIV-1 and our previous studies have demonstrated that HIV-2 and HIV-1 enhancer stimulation is mediated by different sets of cellular proteins following T-cell activation. Similar to HIV-1, HIV-2 encodes a transactivating protein, Tat, which appears to be necessary for viral replication and stimulates viral transcriptional initiation and/or elongation. While Tat-1 binds to the RNA of the trans-activation responsive (TAR) region of HIV-1 and HIV-2, cellular factors that bind to the RNA transcript are also necessary for Tat to function in vivo. Since almost all previous investigations of cellular cofactors for Tat had focused on HIV-1, we undertook studies aimed at understanding the interaction between the TAR RNA region of the HIV-2 promoter (TAR-2) and cellular proteins. By using extension inhibition analysis (toeprinting) and RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we demonstrated binding of a nuclear factor(s) in T cells to the base of the promoter-proximal stem-loop structure. Mutational analysis of this region revealed that both the sequence of the 3' arm and the stem structure itself are important for activation of the promoter by Tat-2. In contrast, the structure is necessary for activation of TAR-2 by Tat-1 but the sequence is less important. These results suggest that a cellular factor interacts with the 3' arm of the proximal stem-loop structure of TAR-2 and mediates Tat-2-induced increases in the level of HIV-2 transcripts.