Mechanism of action of regulatory proteins encoded by complex retroviruses.
Complex retroviruses are distinguished by their ability to control the expression of their gene products through the action of virally encoded regulatory proteins. These viral gene products modulate both the quantity and the quality of viral gene expression through regulation at both the transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels. The most intensely studied retroviral regulatory proteins, termed Tat and Rev, are encoded by the prototypic complex retrovirus human immunodeficiency virus type 1. However, considerable information also exists on regulatory proteins encoded by human T-cell leukemia virus type I, as well as several other human and animal complex retroviruses. In general, these data demonstrate that retrovirally encoded transcriptional trans-activators can exert a similar effect by several very different mechanisms. In contrast, posttranscriptional regulation of retroviral gene expression appears to occur via a single pathway that is probably dependent on the recruitment of a highly conserved cellular cofactor. These two shared regulatory pathways are proposed to be critical to the ability of complex retroviruses to establish chronic infections in the face of an ongoing host immune response.
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