The VP16 transcription activation domain is functional when targeted to a promoter-proximal RNA sequence.
Among eukaryotic transcription trans-activators, the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Tat protein is exceptional in that its target site TAR is an RNA rather than a DNA sequence. Here, we confirm that fusion of Tat to the RNA-binding domain of the HIV-1 Rev protein permits the efficient activation of an HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter in which critical TAR sequences have been replaced by RNA sequences derived from the HIV-1 Rev response element (RRE). An RRE target sequence as small as 13 nucleotides is shown to form an effective in vivo target for Rev binding. More important, a fusion protein consisting of Rev attached to the VP16 transcription activation domain was also observed to efficiently activate the HIV-1 LTR from this nascent RNA target. These data demonstrate that trans-activation of transcription by acidic activation domains does not require a stable interaction with the promoter DNA and suggest that VP16, like Tat, can act on steps subsequent to the formation of the HIV-1 LTR preinitiation complex. The finding that the activation domains of VP16 and Tat are functionally interchangeable raises the possibility that these apparently disparate viral trans-activators may nevertheless act via similar mechanisms.
Tiley, LS; Madore, SJ; Malim, MH; Cullen, BR
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